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2021-06-11

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB) will provide an instrument – VenSpec-H – to the future M5 mission of the European Space Agency, which has just been selected. Following the recent selection of two exploration missions to Venus by NASA, ESA has indeed announced its choice for the next M-class mission.

Venus is often described as the nightmarish little sister of Earth: Venus is of similar size but has a CO2-rich atmosphere with sulfuric acid clouds, with extreme temperature and pressure conditions at its surface (450°C and 90 times the atmospheric pressure of Earth).

The VenSpec-H instrument will observe the atmosphere of Venus in the infrared to measure the abundances of trace gases like water vapor, carbon monoxide or sulphur dioxide, which could be related to volcanism or to other surface processes. VenSpec-H is part of the spectrometer suite VenSpec, which will sound the atmosphere from the surface to up above the clouds. These three instruments will allow us to investigate the relationship between the surface changes and the atmosphere, as well as its evolution.

The Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy has a long history in Venus exploration, having delivered the SOIR instrument to the Venus Express mission. VenSpec-H will be built in close collaboration with OIP (Oudenaarde) and with an international consortium composed of researchers and industries from The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Portugal.

The EnVision mission will be launched in 2031-2032 and will take 15 months to reach Venus. After several months of aerobraking, the orbiter will be placed in a circular orbit around the planet and will then start its scientific observations. EnVision will also carry a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) contributed by NASA, and a subsurface radar sounder.

For more information on the mission: www.envisionvenus.eu

EnVision orbiting Venus
EnVision orbiting Venus. ©ESA/Paris Observatory/VR2Planets

Contact

Dr. Ann Carine Vandaele
BIRA-IASB Research group “Planetary Atmospheres”
VenSpec-H Principal Investigator
E-mail : a-c (dot) vandaele (at) aeronomie (dot) be

Dr. Séverine Robert
BIRA-IASB Research group “Planetary Atmospheres”
VenSpec-H Instrument Scientist
E-mail : severine (dot) robert (at) aeronomie (dot) be

Acknowledgments

BIRA-IASB wants to acknowledge the support of BELSPO (Belgian Science Policy Office) to the mission and in particular to the VenSpec-H instrument.

News image 1
News image legend 1
BIRA-IASB is sending an instrument to Venus. The VenSpec-H instrument will fly with the EnVision mission, which has just been selected by ESA and is planned for launch in 2031-2032.
©NASA/JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Damia Bouic/VR2Planets
News image 2
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The planet Venus as an early morning star in the sky before sunrise. ALthough Earth and Venus are similar in many ways, there are still many unknowns to the second planet of the solar system. ESA's EnVision mission aims to change that.
Source: PxHere