VENUS TARGETS WORKSHOP REPORT POSTED ON VEXAG WEB-SITE

VEXAG

Fifty four scientists from around the world participated in a Venus Exploration Targets Workshop held May 19–21, 2014 at the Lunar Planetary Institute with the goal of identifying key targets for future exploration of Venus and to evaluate their potential for answering the fundamental questions posed in VEXAG’s Venus Exploration Goals, Objectives and Investigation document and other reports.  Science targets for the surface, atmosphere and from space were identified.

A Final Report from that Workshop is now available at the VEXAG website. The intent of this “living” document is to identify scientifically important Venus targets, as the knowledge base for this planet progresses, and to develop a target database (i.e., scientific significance, priority, description, coordinates, etc.) that could serve as reference for future missions to Venus.

Findings of this workshop were:

For Surface Platform: precision targeting, hazard avoidance and potential robust landing (e.g., self-righting) are key technologies in the future exploration of Venus.

For Atmospheric Platforms – While many different types of platforms can be emplaced within the atmosphere of Venus, they will differ in terms of the altitude ranges that can access and the degree of vertical and horizontal control they offer.

For Orbital Platforms: The strength of the orbital vantage point is the breadth of access, which is a key discriminator from the surface and even the atmospheric platforms.

Multimodal Observations: For Venus, because of the dynamic atmosphere there is great advantage to synchronous observations of the same target from two or more platform types as opposed to observations at different times.

Word Count (including title) = 264 –Some room to expand

Surface Platforms: Precision targeting, hazard avoidance and potential robust landing (e.g., self-righting) are key technologies in the future exploration of Venus. Although there may be a few targets (e.g., plains which have been visited several times already in past missions), which are accessible with existing techniques, the most potentially transformative landing sites with require new technologies.  While these techniques can leverage navigation and guidance work done for Mars and Europa, control in the dense atmosphere of Venus will require techniques unique to Venus.

Atmospheric Platforms: While many different types of platforms can be emplaced within the atmosphere of Venus, they will differ in terms of the altitude ranges that can access and the degree of vertical and horizontal control they offer. The breakout group was only able to scratch the surface of what is possible with atmospheric and surface targets from vantage points within the atmosphere.   A future dedicated workshop on this topic might be appropriate at some time. The technology for only a subset of atmospheric platforms (super-pressure [SP] balloons and probes) exists, and so further development work will be needed

Orbital Platforms: The strength of the orbital vantage point is the breadth of access which is a key discriminator from the surface and even the atmospheric platforms. While certain remote sensing approaches are not possible at Venus (e.g., Gamma ray, X ray and near-IR surface studies, but radio science and thermal IR technologies have advanced greatly since Magellan last visited Venus.  The broad, long duration, repeat coverage offered by orbital payloads offer unique exploration advantages that address many of the outstanding goals and objectives identified by VEXAG and play key role as a precursor (for more precise targeting) to future in situ payloads.

Multimodal Observations: The value of multimodal observations comes up in the sections on each of the above topics. For Venus, because of the dynamic atmosphere there is great advantage to synchronous observations of the same target from two or more platform types as opposed to observations at different times.

 

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