DENVER, June 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- To learn more
about how terrestrial planets evolve over time, NASA selected the
VERITAS and DAVINCI+ missions for its Discovery Program, both bound
for Venus. Lockheed Martin will design, build and operate both
spacecraft. The missions will launch in 2026 and 2030 respectively,
and will combine to study Venus' dense atmosphere, topography and
geologic processes in great depth.
Both missions will aim to discover how Venus – which may have
been the first potentially habitable planet in our solar system –
became inhospitable to life. They represent NASA's return to
Earth's sister planet after more than three decades.
"We're very grateful for this opportunity to work with NASA and
the missions' principal investigators to fully understand how rocky
planets evolved and what it means for our planet, Earth," said
Lisa Callahan, vice president and
general manager of Lockheed Martin's Commercial Civil Space
business. "Our team who designed these two spacecraft to study
Venus in unprecedented detail – and yield answers to its greatest
mysteries – is beyond excited!"
The operations and science for DAVINCI+ – which stands for Deep
Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and
Imaging Plus – will be managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
VERITAS – which stands for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science,
InSAR, Topography & Spectroscopy – will have its science and
operations managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Why Does Venus Matter?
Though scientists believe it
was once similar to our home planet, Venus evolved to be much
different – and far less habitable – than Earth.
As Earth's own climate and geology evolve, interest in returning
to Venus has surged because the planet currently suffers from a
runaway greenhouse gas effect.
Over millennia, water that may have once existed on Venus'
surface evaporated and carbon dioxide built up in the atmosphere –
leading to a present-day surface temperature that's hot enough to
Previous missions to Venus have even provided tantalizing clues
that the planet may have once harbored a liquid ocean.
DAVINCI+ and VERITAS will build on those findings, helping
scientists better understand the existence of past life on Venus
and how its atmosphere and geology may have influenced its ultimate
Science from these missions could provide clues about Earth's
own future and will also help inform future missions to the
Studying Venus' Geology with VERITAS
As an orbiter
that draws on heritage from the Lockheed Martin-built MAVEN
spacecraft at Mars, VERITAS will give scientists the most detailed
maps ever produced of Venus' obscured landscape.
When VERITAS arrives at Venus, the orbiter will use a special
technique called aerobraking to carefully insert itself into an
optimal science position in the planet's orbit.
As the spacecraft circles Venus in four cycles near the planet's
poles, two extremely sensitive imagers will capture things like
volcanic activity, tectonics and outgassing of any life-related
compounds like water or carbon.
Measuring Venus' Atmosphere with DAVINCI+
and part probe, the DAVINCI+ spacecraft will provide a look into
Venus' atmosphere in unprecedented detail.
When it arrives at Venus, the DAVINCI+ spacecraft will jettison
a probe to the planet's surface. As it descends, three instruments
will take the first-ever live measurements from inside Venus's
atmosphere – assessing gases, material composition, temperature and
A camera on board will also snap the most detailed images ever
taken of Venus' hidden surface, which is obscured by thick, noxious
Legacy of Planetary Exploration
VERITAS and DAVINCI+
are the eighth and ninth NASA Discovery Program missions Lockheed
Martin has been part of. Previously, the company has:
- Developed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft
- Designed and built the aeroshell entry system for Mars
- Designed, built and operated the spacecraft for the Stardust
- Designed, built and operated the Genesis spacecraft
- Designed, built and operated the two Gravity Recovery and
Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft
- Designed, built and operated the InSight Mars lander
- Designed, built and will operate the Lucy mission to Jupiter's
Trojan asteroids, set to launch in October
NASA's Discovery Program-class missions are capped at a
specific, relatively low cost. They are managed for NASA's
Planetary Science Division by the Planetary Missions Program Office
at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The missions are also
designed and led by a principal investigator, who assembles a team
of scientists and engineers to address key science questions about
the solar system.
Over 50 years, Lockheed Martin has helped NASA explore every
planet of our solar system, and continues to develop new
technologies for future space missions.
The company also supported NASA on Magellan, the agency's prior
mission to Venus 30 years ago. Lockheed Martin built that
spacecraft, which produced the first ever maps of Venus' surface
Now, the team builds on that legacy of discovery with DAVINCI+
About Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda,
Maryland, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:
LMT) is a global security and aerospace company that employs
approximately 114,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged
in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and
sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and
Please follow @LMNews on Twitter for the latest
announcements and news across the corporation.
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SOURCE Lockheed Martin