NASA resurrects VERITAS mission to Venus

After a three-year setback, Mount Holyoke College professor M. Darby Dyar can breathe a sigh of relief as NASA has resurrected its VERITAS mission to Venus.

Following staffing and budgetary issues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a mission to Venus is back on track.

When NASA released its final budget this past week, Mount Holyoke Kennedy-Schelkunoff Professor of Astronomy M. Darby Dyar told Gizmodo in an email that she almost couldn’t believe what she was reading. Funding for VERITAS, which stands for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, was back in the budget and is slated to launch in 2031.

“The nightmare is over,” said Dyar, the deputy principal investigator of the VERITAS mission. “To hear … that we have a launch date and a real budget is, honestly, hard to believe. I walked around last night asking people to pinch me to make sure I wasn’t dreaming!”

Initially, NASA had scheduled the VERITAS mission to launch in 2027 but ultimately postponed the launch by three years after the agency cut back the mission’s funding.

In a previous article by the Washington Post, Dyar said she was “heartbroken” over the news. Dyar and other scientists appealed to Congress to keep the mission on track for a launch before the end of this decade, as VERITAS would mark the first U.S. probe to orbit Venus in more than three decades.

“It’s been so tough to keep our spirits up!” Dyar said. “But in the meantime, the team kept moving forward on a shoestring budget, planning, working to support our foreign partners, even mounting a field campaign in Iceland last summer.”

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