What we know about China’s potential mission to Venus
As part of the expansion of its space exploration program, China has the planet Venus in its sights. Among the missions that could be undertaken by the country in the future, there is the mission VOICE or Venus Volcano Imaging and Climate Explorer. Details on this potential mission emerged during a meeting that took place on July 9.
According to information, if the VOICE mission is approved, it should be launched in 2026 for an arrival in Venusian orbit in 2027. The probe will place on a circular polar orbit at an altitude of 350 km. She will mainly study the geological evolution of Venus, the thermal and chemical processes in its atmosphere, the interactions between the surface and the atmosphere, as well as the potential of clouds to provide a habitable environment.
The probe sent to Venus by the Chinese will be equipped, among other things, with an S-band synthetic aperture polarimetric radar. This instrument will make it possible to see through the clouds of the planet in order to map the surface. There will also be a multi-spectral imager that will observe Venus in the ultraviolet, visible light, and infrared range.
A choice to make
The VOICE mission is a candidate within the framework of a different space science program main missions of exploration of the Moon and other planets carried out by the CNSA or China National Space Administration. VOICE is part of of a group of 13 missions which are still being evaluated. These missions are the responsibility of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In the group of 13 missions, VOICE is in competition with 3 other missions in the category of planetary and earth sciences. One of these 3 missions is the E-type Asteroid Sample Return which aims to collect samples from asteroid 1989 ML and return them to Earth. Then there is the Climate and Atmospheric Components Exploring Satellites mission which will take place in low Earth orbit. Finally, there is the Ocean Surface Current multiscale Observation mission.
At the moment, it is not yet known how many missions will be approved. Candidate missions will be evaluated against budget, technology availability, and manufacturing schedule.
A new interest in Venus
If the VOICE mission is approved, it will join a group of missions to study the planet Venus. The number of missions targeting the latter in the near future testifies to the new interest that scientists have for the planetwhich is the brightest and hottest in the Solar System.
Among the missions preparing to reach Venus are NASA’s VERITAS and DAVINCI+ missions and ESA’s EnVision mission. We also know that Rocket Lab is looking to launch a private mission to the planet in 2023. India also plans to launch its Shukrayaan orbiter in 2024. And then there is Russia, which has announced a Venusian mission project called Venera-D, scheduled to be launched in 2029.