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NASA has asked a team of scientists to figure out what they could learn from sending a major mission to Venus and how such a mission might work.
Last month, the team became one of 11 groups that NASA announced it would fund to study potential mission designs. Dubbed Venus Flagship, the mission would aim to answer questions about how habitable our evil-twin planet once was. Mission principal investigator Martha Gilmore, a geologist at Wesleyan University in Conn., offered an introduction to the project at a meeting on Nov. 8 of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group, which advises NASA.
Gilmore - Project - Signs - Habitability - Venus
Gilmore explained that the project was guided by looking for signs of past habitability on Venus. "It's always been important for Venus science; it is getting increasingly important and perhaps accessible and a little bit better understood," Gilmore said. "If we're going to tackle a problem like this, a flagship could do that."
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Venus - Scientists - Mission - Concept - Proposals
Recently, Venus scientists have typically focused their mission concept proposals on smaller classes, but Gilmore and her colleagues on the project think that's no longer the right approach. Instead, the researchers want to convince NASA to dedicate the most expensive class of mission to Venus, which last saw a long-term U.S. spacecraft visitor in 1994. To better their odds, the team is still aiming to be a cheaper option for the agency's tight budget.
"We want to try to do this for $2 billion," Gilmore said. "Four billion dollars is a lot of money, and we are entering a decade where there...
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