Missions to Venus and two moons in the outer solar system are being considered by NASA
next in its Discovery program, a line of planetary science missions. As reported by NASA on
Feb 13, it has chosen 4 finalists for the same.
These finalists were carefully picked for the next round of Discovery program by NASA from
a number of applications submitted the previous summer. $3 million will be granted to each
of these applications for nine months of Phase A concept studies.
Of these, 2 missions will be selected for development in 2021. Only 2 of these finalists will be shortlisted for the mission to Venus.
Thomas Zurbuchen, partner head for science at NASA said, “These chose missions can
change our comprehension of a portion of the nearby planetary group’s generally dynamic
and complex universes”.
The planet was last visited by NASA in the mid-1990s, on mission by Magellan orbiter. The
mission will be called DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases,
Chemistry, and Imaging Plus). It will include an orbiter and a probe.
The probe will measure the composition of the planet by descending into its dense atmosphere.
As for the other two missions, both will study moons in the outer solar system. In order to
monitor volcanic activity, one would go to the innermost of Jupiter’s four large moons.
The other one is intended to capture data from Neptune’s largest moon Triton.