NASA Funds Research into Venus Atmosphere Sample Return Mission

Graphic depiction of Venus Atmosphere and Cloud Particle Sample Return for Astrobiology. (Credits: Sara Seager)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has funded a study of a mission designed to return samples of Venus’ atmosphere to Earth for scientists to search for signs of life.

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NASA Funds Development of Winged Vehicles to Fly Through Venus’ Clouds

Graphic depiction of BREEZE – Bioinspired Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Exploration. (Credits: Javid Bayandor)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Inflatable winged vehicles could one day explore the clouds of Venus under a project being funded by NASA.

The space agency has provided a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) phase II grant to Javid Bayandor of the State University of New York to continue research on Bioinspired Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Exploration (BREEZE) project.

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Roscosmos Ends U.S. Participation in Venera-D Mission to Venus

When flying past Venus in July 2020, Parker Solar Probe’s WISPR instrument, short for Wide-field Imager for Parker Solar Probe, detected a bright rim around the edge of the planet that may be nightglow — light emitted by oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere that recombine into molecules in the nightside. (Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Naval Research Laboratory/Guillermo Stenborg and Brendan Gallagher)

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin announced that Russia is ending NASA’s participation in the long-delayed Venera D mission, which involves launching an orbiter and lander to Venus in 2029. Roscosmos tweeted: (Translated from Russian)

⚡ “In the context of the introduction of new and the preservation of previously imposed sanctions, I consider the continued participation of the United States in the Russian project for the development and creation of an interplanetary station #ВенераД [Venera-D] inappropriate,” said Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos.

Rogozin’s announcement was the latest move in response to U.S. sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this week. Some of the sanctions have targeted the nation’s space industry, although NASA has said they would not impact cooperation on civilian space projects.

It was not immediately clear what impact the decision would have on the mission. There were significant discussions about NASA contributing instruments to the mission. However, in September 2020, Roscosmos announced that Venera-D would be “an independent national project without extensive involvement of international cooperation.”

Last June, NASA announced two missions to the planet: Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI+); and Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy (VERITAS).

The U.S.-based launch and satellite provider Rocket Lab is also working on a private mission to Venus that would deploy one or more probes into the planet’s thick atmosphere.

NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

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UAE, CU Boulder to Team on Mission to Explore Venus and Asteroids

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Fresh off the success of the Hope Mars orbiter, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric Science and Physics (LASP) will team again on an ambitious mission to explore Venus and seven asteroids.

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Deep Space Atomic Clock Moves Toward Increased Spacecraft Autonomy

NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock has been operating aboard the General Atomics Orbital Test Bed satellite since June 2019. This illustration shows the spacecraft in Earth orbit. (Credits: General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems)

Designed to improve navigation for robotic explorers and the operation of GPS satellites, the technology demonstration reports a significant milestone.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Spacecraft that venture beyond our Moon rely on communication with ground stations on Earth to figure out where they are and where they’re going. NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock is working toward giving those far-flung explorers more autonomy when navigating. In a new paper published today in the journal Nature, the mission reports progress in their work to improve the ability of space-based atomic clocks to measure time consistently over long periods.

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Launch 2020: U.S. Reclaimed Top Spot, Flew Astronauts Again from American Soil

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.

American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.

China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.

Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.

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Then There Were 3: NASA to Collaborate on ESA’s New Venus Mission

Artist rendering of ESA’s EnVision spacecraft. (Credits: European Space Agency/Paris Observatory/VR2Planets)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On June 10, 2021, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the selection of EnVision as its newest medium-class science mission. EnVision will make detailed observations of Venus to understand its history and especially understand the connections between the atmosphere and geologic processes. As a key partner in the mission, NASA provides the Synthetic Aperture Radar, called Venae, to make high resolution measurements of the planet’s surface features. 

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ESA Selects Revolutionary Venus Mission EnVision

PARIS (ESA PR) — EnVision will be ESA’s next Venus orbiter, providing a holistic view of the planet from its inner core to upper atmosphere to determine how and why Venus and Earth evolved so differently.

The mission was selected by ESA’s Science Programme Committee on 10 June as the fifth Medium-class mission in the Agency’s Cosmic Vision plan, targeting a launch in the early 2030s.

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NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study ‘Lost Habitable’ World of Venus

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two new missions to Venus, Earth’s nearest planetary neighbor. Part of NASA’s Discovery Program, the missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours – and may have been the first habitable world in the solar system, complete with an ocean and Earth-like climate.

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Paragon to Develop Aerobot for Exploring Venus, System for Collecting Ice on Moon with NASA Funding

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Paragon Space Development Corporation will continue development of an aerobot for exploring Venus form the air and a system to extract ice from the lunar regolith with the help of a pair of NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards.

The Mechanical-compression Aerobot for extended Range Venus ExpLoration (MARVEL) would be an autonomous robotic balloon vehicle capable of carrying scientific payloads through the Venusian atmosphere. Paragon has teamed with Thin Red Line Aerospace to develop MARVEL.

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NASA Invests $105 Million in US Small Business Technology Development

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technologies from ideas to commercial readiness. The agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is furthering that legacy with 140 new Phase II awards to 127 U.S. small businesses that will help them move their innovations to market.

The awards to these small businesses, located across 34 states and Washington, D.C., total $105 million. NASA’s small business program is dedicated to finding the most useful technologies for the agency and the commercial marketplace, and sourcing those innovations from a diverse  group of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and perspectives. The companies chosen for Phase II funding include 33 women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.

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NASA Funds Research into Flying Environmental Sensors for Venus Exploration

Credit; Jeffrey Balcerski

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts 2021 Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

Jeffrey Balcerski
Ohio Aerospace Institute
Cleveland, Ohio

The LEAVES (Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric VEnus Sensors) architecture is a “swarm” approach to obtaining key, in situ, Venus atmospheric data for exceptionally low cost and risk. This is made possible by an ultra-lightweight, passively-lofted, inexpensive atmospheric sensor package that can be deployed directly from orbit without an aeroshell and is sensitive enough to yield valuable new, transformative information on planetary atmospheres.

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Rocket Lab Set for 19th Electron Launch

Electron launches with OHB satellite. (Credit: Rocket Lab webcast)

Rocket Lab Launch Update

Mission Name: They Go Up So Fast
Launch Vehicle: Electron
Launch Window: No Earlier than 23 March NZT/22 March UTC
Launch Time: No earlier than 11:20 am NZT/22:20 UTC/6:20 p.m. EDT
Launch Site: Mahia Peninsula, New Zealand

Rocket Lab’s 19th Electron mission will deploy a range of satellites for commercial and government satellite operators, as well as place a next-generation Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft in orbit to build spacecraft heritage ahead of Rocket Lab’s mission to the Moon for NASA later this year. 

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NASA Wants Your Help Designing a Venus Rover Concept

An illustration of a concept for a possible wind-powered Venus rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, under a grant from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program, is running a public challenge to develop an obstacle avoidance sensor for a possible future Venus rover. The “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover” challenge is seeking the public’s designs for a sensor that could be incorporated into the design concept.

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