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  • Writer's picturebidyut gogoi

Delayed NASA Venus mission looks for a reprieve

The leader of a Venus expedition that NASA has delayed by at least three years due to complications with another project says she will make an effort to reduce that delay.

The launch of the Venus Emissivity, Radio science, InSAR, topography, and spectroscopy, or VERITAS, Venus orbiter mission would be delayed by at least three years, to no earlier than 2031, as part of the release of an independent review board's report on the delays with the Psyche mission on November 4.

This report revealed broader institutional issues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where it was being developed. Like Psyche, VERITAS is managed by JPL.

In its most recent round of planetary research mission selections in June 2021, NASA chose VERITAS and another Venus mission, DAVINCI+. DAVINCI+, or Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, will launch a probe into the planet's atmosphere while VERITAS will observe the planet from orbit. It will still debut in June 2029 as planned.

Days before the annual meeting of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group, or VEXAG, to debate Venus research and prospective missions like VERITAS, it was announced that VERITAS will be delayed. The impact of the mission's delay and ways to reduce it were discussed by scientists during a portion of the discussion.

In response to suggestions from the Psyche independent assessment, VERITAS has already moved work out of JPL and cut funding in 2022 and 2023. "We had previously contributed in good faith to the problems being confronted."

She noted that there were "several chances" between the mission's initial launch date of the end of 2027 and the current no-earlier-than date of 2031 for the launch of VERITAS.

She stated she wished to collaborate with NASA and the scientific community on methods to lessen the delay. If circumstances change for the better, there are numerous opportunities to avert disaster.

Delaying Problems are brought about by VERITAS for the mission and Smrekar's squad. Partners in France, Germany, and Italy have donated a number of the orbiter's instruments.


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