PARIS (AP) — Europe announced two new missions into space on Friday. The satellite must travel to Venus to study the planet inside and out. Europa also wants to search from space for gravitational waves and vibrations in the capillaries of the universe.
Gravitational waves are created when black holes collide, for example. Then a shock wave is sent across the universe, like ripples on water when a stone falls into a pond. It has only been possible to measure these vibrations in the past few years. Sensitive detectors are manufactured in the United States and Italy. They have already observed dozens of waves. This pioneering research won the Nobel Prize in 2017.
Gravitational waves can also be measured from space and cannot be detected from Earth. For this purpose, Europe is developing a Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) network. Three probes must orbit the sun at a distance of 50 million kilometers from Earth, in a triangle with the distance between them exactly 2.5 million kilometers, that is, more than six times the distance from Earth to the moon.
Each satellite must continuously send a laser beam to other sensors. The Netherlands wants to build the system that ensures the beam gets to exactly the right place. If the beam moves slightly along the way, scientists know it's due to a new gravitational wave. The three probes are scheduled to be launched in 2035.
The EnVision mission to Venus is scheduled for 2031. Venus is the planet closest to Earth. It looks like our planet, but it's completely uninhabitable. The atmosphere consists of dense clouds of sulfuric acid, the average temperature reaches 464 degrees, and the atmospheric pressure is 92 times higher than the atmospheric pressure on Earth. EnVision must, among other things, figure out what the planet's interior looks like. It has never been measured. The satellite should also detect the weather and climate on the planet.
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