Share article:
Share article:

European Space Agency green-lights mission to Venus

An artist's impression of the EnVision mission to Venus. © ESA

The European Space Agency (ESA) had given the go-ahead to a mission to study the geology and atmosphere of the planet Venus, Earth’s closest neighbour.

The question behind the mission: was the planet once habitable, and if not, why has Earth, as third from the Sun in a solar system of eight/nine planets, turned out to be the only one able to support life as we know it?

The project is named EnVision, and has the support of researchers from the University of Oxford, Royal Holloway, a college of the University of London, and Imperial College London. It forms part of the ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme.

The EnVision mission is expected to cost €610 million, and will look at “past and present volcanic activity and the key volcanic gases that sustain its clouds and hostile environment,” the agency said.

In size, composition and distance from the Sun, Venus is the closest planet to Earth in the solar system, and the international team of researchers will study samples from the planet’s interior, surface and atmosphere, comparing them to known data from Earth, in an attempt to figure out why the two neighbours followed such divergent paths.

When they initially formed, Earth and Venus were probably once quite similar, with oceans of molten rock and thick atmospheres of carbon dioxide and steam,” the ESA said.

But Earth evolved to become the habitable planet we enjoy today; Venus may or may not have had a habitable phase with liquid water oceans before developing a runaway greenhouse effect which today cooks its surface to an inhospitable 450 degrees Centigrade.”

I have been working towards getting ESA to choose a Venus mission for over 15 years now, including balloons, probes and landers, and we have been developing this orbiter proposal since 2009,” said Dr Colin Wilson, senior research fellow at Oxford’s department of physics and a deputy lead scientist of the mission.

Today’s announcement comes as a great reward for the huge efforts put in over this time by the whole team of scientists and engineers who have brought us this far. The real work lies ahead of us, of course, in getting the mission realised and to the launchpad; I’m then really looking forward the exciting scientific insights it will yield!”

Latest news

More politicians than ordinary citizens at the Conference on the Future of Europe
The second Plenary of the Conference took place on Saturday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and discussed the contributions from the ...
Belgium’s Consultative Committee to meet on Tuesday
The next meeting of Belgium's Consultative Committee, scheduled for Friday, has been brought forward to Tuesday at 4:30 PM, according to local media ...
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Unilever are world’s biggest plastic polluters
Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Unilever were found to be the world's biggest polluters of plastic in a report published by Branded on Monday. Over 11,000 ...
Four men charged with illegally buying thousands of live ducks to hunt on private land
Four Belgian men will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the purchase of thousands of ducks, which were then released into a private ...
More wolf attacks: 15 deer killed at family resort over the weekend
Fifteen deer were killed by wolves in the Belgian province of Limburg this weekend, between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The deer were ...
Cost of breast cancer still too high for many patients
Breast cancer still carries too high a cost for patients when one in nine women in Belgium will face the disease before reaching 75, according to a ...
Gare Maritime: Brussels’ most exciting new architectural project
A generation ago, the Gare Maritime in the Tour & Taxis industrial site was an abandoned wasteland. It is now a model for urban renewal and ...
Belgium in Brief: Rules For A Fourth Wave
It's the news that nobody wants to hear, but here we go again. Belgium’s council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss ...
Belgian grandparents to walk across Scotland for COP26
A group of Belgian grandparents has set off on a 100 km hike that will take them from Belgium to the Scottish city of Glasgow, just ahead of the ...
Rise in fuel prices will bring Belgian State €547 million in tax, say Workers Party
The sharp rise in fuel prices that have been felt across the continent will bring an additional €547 million to the Belgian State, the Workers' Party ...
Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when ...
Person hit by train in Brussels
A person was hit by a train in the tunnel between Brussels North and Brussels Central at around 10:20 AM on Monday, railway network manager Infrabel ...