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The VenSpec suite on the ESA Envision mission – a holistic investigation of the coupled surface atmosphere system of Venus

Presentation #507.03 in the session Venus II (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
The VenSpec suite on the ESA Envision mission – a holistic investigation of the coupled surface atmosphere system of Venus

The ESA EnVision mission will determine the nature and current state of Venus’ geological evolution and its relationship with the atmosphere, to understand how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently. Venus may once have been habitable, with liquid water oceans, before developing the enormous greenhouse warming which renders it uninhabitable today, thus providing a natural laboratory for studying the evolution of habitability. Venus has remained active into the present era, unlike the much smaller Mars and Mercury. It is essential for understanding the links between planetary geophysical evolution and habitability of terrestrial planets from our own Earth to terrestrial planets and exoplanets everywhere.

The VenSpec suite is following the holistic approach of the EnVision mission. It will provide unprecedented insights into the current state of Venus and its past evolution, perform a comprehensive search for volcanic activity by targeting atmospheric signatures, thermal signatures and compositional signatures, as well as a global map of surface composition.

VenSpec-U will monitor sulphured minor species (mainly SO and SO2) and the as yet unknown UV absorber in Venusian upper clouds and just above. It will therefore complement the two other channels by investigating how the upper atmosphere interacts with the lower atmosphere, and especially characterize to which extent outgassing processes such as volcanic plumes are able to disturb the atmosphere through the thick Venusian clouds.

VenSpec-H will be dedicated to high resolution atmospheric measurements. The main objective of the VenSpec- H instrument is to detect and quantify SO2, H2O and HDO in both the troposphere and the mesosphere, to enable characterization of volcanic plumes and other sources of gas exchange with the surface of Venus, complementing VenSAR and VenSpec-M surface, SRS subsurface observations and VenSpec-U observations in the upper cloud layer.

VenSpec-M will provide near-global compositional data on rock types, weathering, and crustal evolution by mapping the Venus surface in five atmospheric windows. VenSpec-M take advantage of the improved altimetry provided by the NASA VERITAS VISAR and Envision VenSAR-derived DEMs. VenSpec-M will monitor for H2O abundance variations close to the surface complementing VenSpec-H observations. In combination with the observations provided by the identical VEM instrument on the NASA VERITAS mission VenSpec-M will provide more than a decade of monitoring for volcanic activity, as well as search for surface changes.

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