TechESA greenlights extensive exploration of Venus and gravitational wave detection

ESA greenlights extensive exploration of Venus and gravitational wave detection

Venus
Venus
Images source: © NASA
11:46 AM EST, January 26, 2024

Europe has built expertise in studying Venus through the Venus Express probe mission from 2005 to 2014. This mission mapped the entire atmosphere of Venus. The European Space Agency (ESA) now moves to the next step, planning to send a new space probe to Venus. Named EnVision, this project aims to study not just the atmosphere but the entire planet, focusing on understanding the interaction between the planet's interior, surface, and atmosphere.

The EnVision probe is expected to launch in 2031, with data collection commencing no later than 2035. The probe will be dispatched using the Ariane 6 rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The journey to Venus will take 15 months, with an additional 15 months required for atmospheric braking before entering the scientific orbit at 149 to 336 miles. The orbit period will be 94 minutes. The research period is expected to last four Earth years.

In collaboration with NASA, the EnVision project will complement the planned American missions VERITAS and DAVINCI+.

The second approved project is the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA), the first space observatory designed to detect gravitational waves. Often referred to as "wrinkles in space-time", these are emitted during events such as black hole collisions.

The LISA project represents a continuation of experiments from the LISA Pathfinder mission, launched by ESA in 2015, to test technology intended for use in the LISA mission. The main phase of the LISA mission is expected to begin in 2035. The project plans to launch three space probes flying in a triangular formation, separated by roughly 1,553,429 miles and approximately 31,068,559 miles from Earth. LISA will detect gravitational waves by analyzing the minute changes in distance between freely floating cubes placed in each spacecraft.

The primary selection of the EnVision project occurred on June 10th, 2021, and the LISA project was chosen on June 20th, 2017. The recent decision means that the construction of space probes can now commence.

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