Image: Rocket Lab’s Electron-launched private mission to Venus will deploy a small probe from a high-energy Photon.
Regular, low-cost Decadal-class science missions to planetary destinations will be enabled by high-ΔV small spacecraft, such as the high-energy Photon, and small launch vehicles, such as Electron, to support expanding opportunities for scientists and to increase the rate of science return.
The Rocket Lab mission to Venus is a small direct entry probe planned for baseline launch in May 2023 with accommodation for a single ~1 kg instrument.
A backup launch window is available in January 2025. The probe mission will spend about 5 min in the Venus cloud layers at 48–60 km altitude above the surface and collect in situ measurements.
We have chosen a low-mass, low-cost autofluorescing nephelometer to search for organic molecules in the cloud particles and constrain the particle composition.
Astrobiology, exobiology, astrochemistry,