One of the most fascinating discoveries made by NASA about Venus in many years was made public this month. The first concrete proof that the planet has an active volcano. But instead of celebration, the planetary science community is in a depressing mood. The cause is the funding for a crucial Venus mission. Which was set to provide answers to some of the most important questions about the planet. And its volcanic activity, has been drastically cut.
Venus has an atmosphere 100 times more pressure than Earth and a fiery, unpleasant surface temperature. Scientists have long speculated that the volcanoes on its surface may still be active.Sce But they have lacked concrete evidence of this until lately.
Researchers analysed through 30-year-old data from the Magellan mission and discovered a volcanic vent. It seems to be lava within and a potential lava flow going downhill that altered shape over the period of eight months.
According to Robert Herrick, this new finding indicates that Venus is probably more or less similar Earth. In terms of how frequently large shield volcanoes erupt there.
According to Venus expert Darby Dyar, this discovery is “mind-blowing,” opening up opportunities to learn more about Venus’ geology. And its atmosphere as well as if the planet was once habitable.
Nevertheless, the “soft cancellation” of a significant NASA Venus mission, for which Dyar is also deputy principle investigator. And it was scheduled to launch in 2028. It is overshadowing the excitement over this discovery in the space research community.
While staffing may be an issue at JPL, other team members agreed that their perception was that the delay had more to do with NASA financial concerns. Than it did with effectively dispersing staff. Several independent commentators have hypothesised that by choosing two Venus missions for 2021. NASA may have overcommitted and discovered too late that its budget couldn’t support both of them.
The missions also have a broader impact on planetary research because learning more about Venus. It would improve our understanding of exoplanets. We can gain a better understanding of many of the exoplanets that are out there. But that we don’t have the ability to closely examine by researching characteristics of Venus such as its volcanism or atmosphere.
Scientists contend that now is the moment to intensify Venus investigation. Not to cut the funding of a crucial programme, as exoplanet detection and characterization are a critical goal for flagship NASA missions. Like the James Webb Space Telescope and the future Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope.
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