A Description of Rocket Lab’s Mission to Venus

Figure 1. Rocket Lab’s Electron-launched private mission to Venus will deploy a small probe from a high-energy Photon.

Originally published by MDPI Open Access Journals

Rocket Lab Mission to Venus

by Richard French 1,*,Christophe Mandy 1,Richard Hunter 1,Ehson Mosleh 1,Doug Sinclair 1,Peter Beck 1,Sara Seager 2,3,4,Janusz J. Petkowski 2,Christopher E. Carr 5,David H. Grinspoon 6,Darrel Baumgardner 7,8 and on behalf of the Rocket Lab Venus Team †1

Rocket Lab, 3881 McGowen Street, Long Beach, CA 90808, USA
2 Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
3 Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
4 Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA
5 School of Aerospace Engineering and School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA
6 Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
7 Droplet Measurement Technologies, LLC, 2400 Trade Centre Ave, Longmont, CO 80503, USA
8 Cloud Measurement Solutions, LLC, 415 Kit Carson Rd., Unit 7, Taos, NM 87571, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Collaborators/Membership of the Group/Team Name is provided in the Acknowledgments.

Academic Editor: Pierre Rochus
Aerospace 20229(8), 445; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace9080445
Received: 21 July 2022 / Revised: 10 August 2022 / Accepted: 11 August 2022 / Published: 13 August 2022|
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Search for Signs of Life on Venus: Science Objectives and Mission Designs)

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Abstract

Regular, low-cost Decadal-class science missions to planetary destinations will be enabled by high-ΔV small spacecraft, such as the high-energy Photon, and small launch vehicles, such as Electron, to support expanding opportunities for scientists and to increase the rate of science return. The Rocket Lab mission to Venus is a small direct entry probe planned for baseline launch in May 2023 with accommodation for a single ~1 kg instrument. A backup launch window is available in January 2025. The probe mission will spend about 5 min in the Venus cloud layers at 48–60 km altitude above the surface and collect in situ measurements. We have chosen a low-mass, low-cost autofluorescing nephelometer to search for organic molecules in the cloud particles and constrain the particle composition.

Keywords: VenusRocket Labautofluorescing nephelometersmall spacecraftsmall launch vehicle

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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Heat Exchange-Driven Aircraft for Low Altitude and Surface Exploration of Venus

Eldar Noe Dobrea
Planetary Science Institute

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