The US space agency NASA recently revealed the details of its VERITAS mission to Venus which is aimed to explore the ‘deep truths’ of Earth’s ‘mysterious twin’. Venus is the second planet from the Sun and it is very similar in size and structure to Earth. While the researchers informed that the ‘twin’ planet even appeared at the same time as Earth, they also said that the ‘rocky planet’ is different in almost every other way.
In a bid to understand how the ‘sister planets’ evolved so differently, NASA proposed mission VERITAS. According to a press note, the mission will help the scientists understand the internal geodynamics that shaped Venus. Further, the researchers believe that the mission could lend insights into Earth’s evolution as well.
NASA plans to launch the VERITAS project in 2026 in collaboration with the French Space Agency, Germany Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The mission will orbit the planet and create 3D maps with the help of a high-tech radar system. It further will also measure Venu’s gravitational field in order to determine the planet’s interior. With the help of a near-infrared spectrometer, VERITAS will help figure out what the planet’s surface is made of.
While calling Venus the ‘cosmic gift on an accident’, Suzanne Smrekar, principal investigator of VERITAS at JPL, said, “You have these two planetary bodies – Earth and Venus – that started out nearly the same but have gone down two completely different evolutionary paths, but we don’t know why”.
‘1st maps of Venus’ surface composition’
As per the press release, the US Space Agency aims to learn more about the geological processes on Venus. The researchers believe that with the high resolution 3D topographic maps VERITAS would bring into focus structures that have previously been too small to resolve. Additionally, the mission would study vast deformation structures called tessera and VERITAS would also construct the ‘first global multispectral maps of Venus’ surface composition’.
Smrekar said, “To unwrap the mysteries of Venus we have to look under the hood at Venus’ interior; it is the engine for global geologic and atmospheric evolution”.
She further added, “Are Venus and Earth fundamentally unique worlds? Or are the differences between these ‘twins’ only cosmetic? Answering this question is key to understanding what makes other rocky planets habitable and, ultimately, emerge with life”.