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Venus-the Forgotten, Mysterious Planet: August 15 Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Lori Glaze

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This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

We’ve heard a great deal recently about Jupiter (Juno Mission) and Pluto (New Horizons), and soon the Science, Technology & Business Division will present a program on Saturn (Cassini), but what about Venus?  Except for programs on the Transit of Venus, our sister planet has been feeling a little left out.  To remedy this, we’ve invited Dr. Lori Glaze, the principal investigator for a proposed mission to Venus called DAVINCI (the Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry and Imaging), to shed some light on this forgotten, mysterious planet.  Dr. Glaze will take attendees on a tour of what we know about Venus, what mysteries we need to solve, and what future spacecraft and instrument technologies could help us answer our questions.

Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Place: Pickford Theater, 3rd floor, Madison Building

Compared to Earth and Mars, we know very little about the early history and evolution of Venus. Despite the likelihood that Venus was very similar to Earth after formation, the two planets followed vastly different evolutionary pathways. Venus is a planet of extremes. It now hosts a runaway greenhouse atmosphere composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid clouds, and surface temperatures that could melt lead (864 degrees Fahrenheit).

As the closest planet to Earth, Venus was the first planet visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2, 1962, US) and the first with a successful spacecraft landing (Venera 7, 1970, USSR). The first detailed surface maps came from the NASA/JPL Magellan spacecraft which reached and began orbiting Venus in 1990. Magellan used Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) to penetrate the thick atmosphere and revealed volcanoes and deformed mountains.

When, how, and why Venus’ evolution diverged from Earth’s is unknown, yet better understanding of why Venus is the way it is today is critical to interpreting new observations of exoplanets that have been found around other stars in our galaxy. The DAVINCI mission would send a probe on a journey down through Venus’ atmosphere, winding up in the planet’s roughest and most geologically complex terrain, and in the process, examine the planet’s atmosphere from top to bottom for the first time in nearly four decades.

For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at [email protected] or the division office at: (202) 707-1212. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].

The lecture will be later broadcast on the library’s webcast page and YouTube channel “Topics in Science” playlist.


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