While the target of the very first interplanetary mission was Venus, there are still significant gaps in our knowledge about the planet. In situ Venus missions present both a high scientific pay-off, and significant implementation challenges. A long-lived surface mission is compelling because it could address many of our highest priority questions about Venusian surface. However, emerging long duration Venus in situ technologies require continued development to reach the level of capability currently achievable on other solid bodies. Now is the time to consider unconventional architectures that leverage technological advancements to deliver new understanding about the surface and near-surface regions of Venus.The goal of the workshop is to develop new concepts for in situ sample capture missions, where samples from the Venusian surface or lower atmosphere are delivered to an “airborne laboratory” for analysis. The Russians achieved both limited-lifetime landed missions (~2 hours on the surface) as well as balloon missions under the Venera and Vega programs. To date, the only in situ Venus information comes from these Russian missions and NASA’s Pioneer Venus Multiprobe mission. The challenging environment limits options and the accessible science; short-lived lander and aerial vehicle missions have been proposed, but have not been selected. The 2003 Decadal Survey ranked the Venus In Situ Explorer (VISE) highest among new inner planets mission concepts, but no mission proposal was successful. Venus Surface Sample Return (VSSR) promoted the exploration of options to return samples to Earth, but was discarded as too costly and complex. Despite this, the new Venus Exploration Roadmap recognizes that “the ability to carry out prolonged surface observations from a mobile platform operating on the surface or close to the surface would have enormous value,” but does not currently identify a path to do so. This workshop will systematically analyze feasibility, science return, and paths forward for architectures that collect samples at multiple locations for return to a longer-lived airborne laboratory.
Workshop participants will:
- Identify different approaches to in situ sample retrieval and analysis,
- Analyze the feasibility of the approaches,
- Establish the scope of science enabled by the most promising approaches,
- Identify the analytical instruments needed for characterization of the retrieved samples, and
- Determine the technology needed, and pathways to development.