GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 200-2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


WHITTEN, Jennifer1, SMREKAR, Suzanne E.2, DYAR, M. Darby3, HENSLEY, Scott2, NUNES, Daniel2 and THE VERITAS, Science Team2, (1)Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Tulane University, 6823 Saint Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118, (2)Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA / CALTECH), 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109, (3)Dept. of Astronomy, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA 01075; Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719-2395

The VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio science, InSAR, Topography And Spectroscopy) mission is one of two Discovery class missions selected by NASA this past June. VERITAS will be the first mission in over three decades to specifically investigate the surface and interior of Venus, with the goal of addressing lingering fundamental questions about the planet. The ultimate goal of the VERITAS mission is to further understand how rocky planets evolve and what makes them habitable by addressing 18 science questions. VERITAS will launch around 2028 and spend ~3 years measuring the surface and interior of Venus, leaving rich datasets that expand our understanding of rocky planet evolution. The legacy of VERITAS will be these foundational data sets that can be used by future generations of scientists to continue understanding Venus’ secrets.

VERITAS will answer science questions that include rocky planet evolution, active processes, and the role of past and present water in the geologic evolution of Venus. Despite the many differences between Venus and Earth, Venus is an important analog to study processes active on early Earth including understanding the initiation of plate tectonics and the formation of continents. The measurements that will be made by VERTIAS aim to understand how Venus evolved to its current geologic state, which includes characterizing currently active processes. The mission will make several types of measurements, including collecting high resolution X-band radar images of the surface, topography, and interferometric synthetic aperture radar data using the VISAR (Venus Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) radar instrument. These data will be used to address questions regarding current volcanic activity and whether there is evidence for ongoing subduction. The VEM (Venus Emissivity Mapper) is a near infrared spectral imager that will measure the surface rock type to help reveal the role of water in the geologic evolution of Venus’ continent-like tesserae. Gravity science is accomplished using the Ka-band radio and includes making improved measurements of the Venus gravity field and determination of the tidal love number to investigate the deep interior.