The long game of space exploration

Volcano on Venus

NASA announced this week that scientists have found the first direct evidence of recent volcanic activity on Venus. It’s another example of a new discovery based on old data—in this case, radar images collected by the Magellan spacecraft in the early 90s—something that’s only set to increase as future missions collect exponentially more data.

That includes NASA’s next mission to Venus, which will involve getting as many eyes (and machines) as possible to examine the data:

VERITAS will use state-of-the-art synthetic aperture radar to create 3D global maps and a near-infrared spectrometer to figure out what the surface is made of. The spacecraft will also measure the planet’s gravitational field to determine the structure of Venus’ interior. Together, the instruments will offer clues about the planet’s past and present geologic processes.

And whereas Magellan’s data was originally cumbersome to study – Herrick said that in the 1990s they relied on boxes of CDs of Venus data that were compiled by NASA and delivered in the mail – VERITAS’ data will be available online to the science community. That will enable researchers to apply cutting-edge techniques, such as machine learning, to analyze the planet and help reveal its innermost secrets.

  • Post category:Space

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