Skip to main content

Scientists want to send a $2 billion flagship-class mission to Venus

Scientists are hoping to convince NASA to send a flagship mission to Venus in order to learn more about the planet’s past and if how habitable it could have been. 

The Venus Flagship mission would be the first to touch down on our neighboring planet since 1994. Scientists want a flagship mission — the most expensive class of a NASA project — because they want to go deeper into the research of habitability on Venus, according to 

“It’s always been important for Venus science; it is getting increasingly important and perhaps accessible and a little bit better understood,” Mission principal investigator Martha Gilmore said during a meeting about the project earlier this month. ”If we’re going to tackle a problem like this, a flagship could do that.” reports that scientists want to carry out the mission for $2 billion, which would only be one tricky part of the mission. The other challenge would be making sure the spacecraft would be able to survive Venus’ harsh environment, which includes volcanoes and big lava plains. 

Some evidence suggests that millions of years ago, Venus could have been a hospitable planet with lower temperatures allowing water to exist on its surface. However, recent research reveals that Venus might not have had oceans on its surface as we had thought. Instead, scientists found that the highlands of Venus are likely made of basaltic lava rather than granite. While granite needs water in order to form, basaltic lava does not require water. 

The Venus Flagship mission hopes to explore the question of habitability by looking at volatile compounds like water, the planet’s climate history and the relationship between its surface and its atmosphere, and better understanding the geologic activity on Venus. 

The mission wouldn’t be ready anytime soon, though. Scientists have to send a report on the mission to NASA, NASA will have to submit it to the National Academies of Sciences decadal planetary review process, which will then have to determine NASA’s long-term goals starting 2023. 

Digital Trends reached out to NASA to comment on the proposed Venus mission, and we’ll update this story once we hear back. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
How NASA’s amazing Super Guppy is helping the Artemis moon missions
NASA's Super Guppy aircraft.

NASA’s Super Guppy is one extraordinary-looking aircraft.

The enormous wide-bodied plane is used by the space agency to transport components that are too large to fit on a conventional cargo plane.

Read more
NASA video shows you what it’s like to plunge through Venus’ atmosphere
nasa video davinci venus

NASA is planning its first robotic explorers to Venus in over 30 years, with the announcement this summer of the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions. Now, NASA has shown what one of those missions will be facing with the release of a video visualization of the DAVINCI probe plunging through the Venusian atmosphere.

The DAVINCI Mission to Venus

Read more
NASA will send its uncrewed Artemis mission to the moon in February 2022
NASA's Orion spacecraft is fully stacked on the Space Launch System rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA has confirmed that it will be heading back to the moon early next year, announcing that the uncrewed Artemis I mission will launch in February 2022.

This week, the agency completed the stacking of its Orion spacecraft on the Space Launch System, the world's most powerful rocket. The Orion craft was lifted onto the rocket and secured in place, and now testing can begin ahead of the launch next year.

Read more