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Science objective and status of the EnVision Mission to Venus

Presentation #507.05 in the session Venus II (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Science objective and status of the EnVision Mission to Venus

EnVision was selected in 2021 as ESA’s fifth Medium-class mission to Venus, in partnership NASA, where NASA provides the Synthetic Aperture Radar instrument. The ESA mission adoption is scheduled for January 2024, and the launch for 2031. EnVision’s scientific goal is to provide a holistic view of the planet, from its inner core to its upper atmosphere, studying the planet’s history, activity, and climate.

EnVision aims to establish the nature and current state of Venus’ geological evolution and its relationship with the atmosphere. EnVision’s overall science objectives are to: (i) characterize the sequence of events that formed the regional and global surface features of Venus, as well as the geodynamic framework that has controlled the release of internal heat over Venus history; (ii) determine how geologically active the planet is today; (iii) establish the interactions between the planet and its atmosphere at present and through time. Furthermore, EnVision will look for evidence of past liquid water on its surface.

The nominal EnVision science phase of the mission will last about four Earth years. The science objectives will be addressed by its five instruments and one experiment, provided by European and US research institutes and space agencies. The VenSAR S-band radar will perform targeted surface imaging as well as polarimetric and stereo imaging, radiometry, and altimetry. The high-frequency Subsurface Radar Sounder (SRS) will sound the upper crust in search of material boundaries. Three spectrometers, VenSpec-U, VenSpec-H and VenSpec-M, operating in the UV and Near- and Short Wave-IR, respectively, will map trace gases, search for volcanic gas plumes above and below the clouds, and map surface emissivity and composition. A Radio Science Experiment (RSE) investigation will exploit the spacecraft Telemetry Tracking and Command (TT&C in Ka-/X bands) system to determine the planet’s gravity field and to sound the structure and composition of the middle atmosphere and the cloud layer in radio occultation. All instruments have substantial heritage and robust requirement margins, with designs suitable for operation in the Venus environment. The EnVision science teams will adopt an open data policy, with public release of the scientific data after validation and verification.

In this presentation, the scientific objectives and status of the EnVision Phase B1 activities will be presented, including an overview of ongoing work by the EnVision science team on the mission consolidation.

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