EnVision’s innovative toolkit will tackle these big questions. It will be equipped with a suite of European instruments including a sounder to reveal underground layers, and spectrometers to study the atmosphere and the surface. The spectrometers will monitor traces of gas in the atmosphere and analyze the composition of the surface, looking for any changes that may be related to signs of active volcanism. A radar provided by NASA will image and map the surface. In addition, a radio science experiment will probe the internal structure and gravity field of the planet and study the structure and composition of the atmosphere. The instruments will work together to better characterize the interaction between the different borders of the planet -om the interior to the surface and through the atmosphere – providing a holistic global view of the planet and its processes.
EnVision follows ESA’s highly successful Venus Express (2005-2014), which focused primarily on atmospheric research, but also made spectacular discoveries indicating possible volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface. . JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft has also been studying the atmosphere since 2015. EnVision will significantly improve the surface radar images obtained by NASA’s Magellan in the 1990s. In collaboration with upcoming NASA missions DAVINCI + (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gas, Chemistry, and Imaging) and VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy), the trio of new spacecraft will provide the most comprehensive study of Venus ever.
“We are delighted to contribute to ESA’s exciting new mission to investigate Venus,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for Science at NASA. “EnVision leverages the strengths of our two agencies in instrument development. Combined with NASA’s Discovery missions to Venus, the scientific community will have a powerful and synergistic set of new data to understand how Venus formed and how the surface and atmosphere have changed over time.
Solar Orbiter, Euclid, Plato and Ariel have already been selected as middle class missions. Solar Orbiter was launched in February 2020; Euclid, Plato and Ariel will be launched throughout this decade.
EnVision is an ESA-led mission with significant contributions from NASA, which will provide VenSAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), as well as support for the Deep Space Network. The other payload instruments are supplied by ESA Member States, ASI, DLR, BelSPO and CNES leading respectively the supply of SRS (Subsurface Sounding Radar), VenSpec-M, VenSpec-H and VenSpec-U. The scientific radio experiment is carried out by institutes in France and Germany.