CU-Boulder candidate for $650 million NASA project | AspenTimes.com

CU-Boulder candidate for $650 million NASA project

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Colorado at Boulder has received $3.3 million from NASA for a study of a mission to Venus and could land $650 million more to send a spacecraft to the planet.

The space agency said Tuesday the school is one of three finalists for a space exploration project to launch by 2018. The other schools are the University of Arizona in Tucson and Washington University in St. Louis.

CU-Boulder has proposed landing a probe on Venus to study the planet’s surface, climate and atmosphere and try to determine what caused its harsh conditions and toxic atmosphere.

Larry Esposito of the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics said studying Venus could help scientists understand the development of other planets and the solar system. He noted that Venus’ atmosphere is filled with carbon dioxide and acid rain.

“Understanding the physical and chemical reasons for this uncontrolled warming may help scientists better understand the eventual fate of Earth,” said Esposito, science team leader on the proposal.

NASA will chose one of the three proposals for full development after reviewing each university’s yearlong studies.

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The University of Arizona has proposed sending a spacecraft to orbit an asteroid and collect material from the surface. Washington University has proposed landing a craft in a basin near the moon’s south pole to collect materials. The goals are to understand the formation of the solar system and relationship between the Earth and the moon.