Astrochemistry Laboratory

Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)


Flight Project


In Development


Launch Date:


VICI will send two identical landers to the surface of Venus. Each lander will travel through the harsh Venus atmosphere, sampling the air all the way to the surface. Once on the surface, each lander will measure the chemical composition of the rocks at the landing site and will determine what types of minerals make up the rocks. These measurements are crucial to understanding the origins of the Venus atmosphere and surface, how Venus has evolved, and how and why Venus is different from Earth and Mars. VICI’s measurements will reveal the history of water on Venus, and the chemical processes at work in the completely unexplored lower atmosphere. The VICI landers will take the first ever images of the intriguing ridged terrain called “tesserae” to explore its origin and tectonic, volcanic, and weathering history.

VICI Tests Hypotheses and Addresses Unanswered Questions
  • What is the origin of the Venus atmosphere and how has it evolved?
  • How and why is Venus different from Earth and Mars?
  • Was there an early ocean on Venus? If so, when and where did it go?
  • What is the atmospheric composition below the clouds, and what is the oxidation state in the near-surface atmospheric environment?
  • What is the fine-scale structure of the atmosphere below the clouds, including winds?
  • What exactly are the tesserae highlands? What is their origin and tectonic/volcanic/weathering history?
  • Do the tessera retain evidence of a more water-rich era?
  • How do the surface and atmosphere interact? What is the nature of the weathering environment?

Key Staff
    Image of Venus in 3 different stages through time.