ESA mission on venus
- Following NASA’s footsteps, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that it has selected EnVision as its next orbiter that will visit Venus sometime in the 2030s.
- At the core of the ESA’s mission is the question of how Earth and Venus evolved so differently from each other considering that they are roughly of the same size and composition.
The earliest launch opportunity for EnVision is 2031, followed by 2032 and 2033.
Once launched on an Ariane 6 rocket, the spacecraft will take about 15 months to reach Venus and will take 16 more months to achieve orbit circularisation.
The spacecraft will carry a range of instruments to study the planet’s atmosphere and surface, monitor trace gases in the atmosphere and analyse its surface composition.
A radar provided by NASA will help to image and map the surface.
It will follow another ESA-led mission to Venus called ‘Venus Express’ (2005-2014) that focussed on atmospheric research and pointed to volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface.
Other than this, Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft has also been studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2015.
- It is the second-brightest object in the sky after the moon.
- It appears bright because of its thick cloud cover that reflects and scatters light.
- But while Venus, which is the second closest planet to the Sun, is called the Earth’s twin because of their similar sizes, the two planets have significant differences between them.
- Surface temperatures on Venus can go up to 471 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt lead.
- This is due to the planet’s thick atmosphere that traps heat and makes it the hottest planet in the solar system, despite coming after Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun.
- It moves forward on its orbit around the Sun but spins backwards around its axis slowly.
- Due to this, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the East.
- One day on Venus is equivalent to 243 Earth days because of its backward spinning, opposite to that of the Earth’s and most other planets.
- Venus does not have a moon and rings.