NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has space plans for the agency, including a trip to Venus, a sophisticated view of Earth using 3D technology, and a human landing on Mars.
Speaking at his first address to NASA on Wednesday afternoon, the former Florida senator announced groundbreaking missions, sending the space community to buzz.
The big news of the day bypassed double missions to the “twin” of Venus on Earth, called VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy) and DAVINCI + (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gasses, Chemistry and Imaging).
Discovery programs will map and measure aspects of Venus to understand the history of the planet.
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While DAVINCI + will explore the planet’s atmosphere, which could shed light on whether Venus ever had an ocean, VERITAS will focus on the surface in hopes of learning “why it evolved so differently from Earth.”
Magellan, the last US mission to Venus, ended in 1994 after the spacecraft was ordered to dive into the toxic atmosphere.
Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Nelson said NASA would return there to better understand why Venus has “a very dense, foreboding, uncompromising atmosphere.”
“So what is the atmosphere of Venus that is created this way and what secrets are hidden underneath? And why is it so impossible that it will even melt lead on the surface? And these are the secrets. Because we are not When we were on Venus in 30 years, we want to uncover these secrets and try to understand the origin of the Earth and our inhabited Earth and atmosphere. “
During his address, the administrator also discussed the long-awaited Artemis program, in which the agency plans to send the first colored person and the first woman to the moon by 2024.
However, critics said NASA’s target date could be too ambitious, and a report by the government’s accountability service released in May said Artemis was facing “technical risks as well as management problems”.
In his first interview as an administrator, Nelson told the Associated Press in May that a “dose of sobering reality” needed to be added to the agency’s analysis of Artemis.
Although the 2024 target remains, Nelson warned that “space is difficult.”
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“And we know when you cut the edge of the envelope, the development of technology, flying in a very irreconcilable environment, when safety is your main concern – we know that there are often delays,” he said. “And so we also have to be brutally realistic that there may be delays.”
In addition to landing humans on the moon, Artemis will “establish sustainable research in preparation for missions to Mars.”
“The moon is only 250,000 miles from Earth. To go to Mars, you are talking millions of miles. And as a result, we can use one-sixth of the moon’s gravity and learn how to live, how to acclimatize, how to make fuel from lunar regolith, learning how to capture water there and produce fuel in preparation for how we sustain human life for long, long-term missions? ”Nelson reasoned. “It’s not three or four days to the moon and no matter how long it is from there and back. But we talk about years to get to Mars, stay there for a few years and come back. So we can learn a lot on the moon as we prepare to go to Mars. “
The administrator also detailed NASA’s recent efforts to monitor and combat climate change using advanced modeling.
In May, NASA said it would develop a new set of Earth-focused missions to provide critical information on climate, disaster mitigation and improving agricultural processes.
The Earth Observatory’s satellites will work in tandem with others to “create a three-dimensional view of the Earth,” focusing on aerosols, clouds and precipitation, mass change, surface biology and geology, and surface deformation and change.
Nelson said that while the agency already has “advanced instruments” in space that make measurements on Earth that are “enhanced” by measurements already made by ocean buoys and planes that drop instrument packs into hurricanes on the ocean floor, the five new large scientific observatories would “increase” efforts.
“The first is one in January 23, which will measure earthquakes and lava flows and the accumulation and addition of coastlines and mountainous terrain. Add the rest of those over a decade and create this 3D dimension of understanding how all the elements we look at , are interconnected, “he said. “Earth, water, atmosphere and ice.”
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“When we have this comprehensive view, we can better inform what we are doing on Earth to be better farmers. How we can be more efficient – such as with crops – and how we can keep things, not only as agriculture, but how can we predict things that may happen in the future, such as drought, insects or storms – whatever afflicts us as earthlings, “he said.” And we will do so in the next decade. “
In a recent statement describing the Earth Observatory, NASA said one of the first initiatives involved a partnership with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to measure changes in the earth’s surface by less than half an inch using two different radar systems.