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Astro Seminar

Understanding why Venus is so different to Earth

Speaker: Richard Ghail (Royal Holloway)
Date: Wednesday 3 November 2021
Time: 14:00
Venue: Zoom

Venus is the only Earth-sized planet in our Solar System and yet it could not be less hospitable. How is it that two planets so similar in size, composition and distance from the Sun, can be so different? Three recently selected missions seek to address different and complementary aspects of these questions: DaVinci will provide a very detailed geochemical ‘snapshot’ through the atmosphere while Veritas will make a global geophysical survey. I proposed EnVision to undertake a set of complementary targeted observations of the atmosphere, surface and interior. Its goals are to locate and characterise geological activity on the surface and to track how that activity drives atmospheric chemistry, especially in the clouds, and to infer how both evolved through time and, in particular, what evidence there may be for past oceans. To do so, EnVision carries an imaging radar (VenSAR), a sounding radar (SRS), a spectrometer suite (VenSpec-U and -H) and mapper (VenSpec-M) and will additionally conduct radio science experiments (RSE). In this talk I will give a wider view of Venus, showing how our understanding of both Venus and Earth has evolved since Magellan, and what we hope to learn from EnVision and the flotilla of complementary missions heading to Venus this decade.