VAMOS: A SmallSat mission concept for remote sensing of Venusian seismic activity from orbit

Brian M. Sutin, James Cutts, Alan M. Didion, Mélanie Drilleau, Matthew Grawe, Jörn Helbert, Ashley Karp, Balthasar Kenda, Attila Komjathy, Siddharth Krishnamoorthy, Gregory Lantoine, Philippe Lognonné, Jonathan J. Makela, Barry Nakazono, Mayer Rud, Mark Wallace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The apparent youthfulness of Venus' surface features, given a lack of plate tectonics, is very intriguing; however, longduration seismic observations are essentially impossible given the inhospitable surface of Venus. The Venus Airglow Measurements and Orbiter for Seismicity (VAMOS) mission concept uses the fact that the dense Venusian atmosphere conducts seismic vibrations from the surface to the airglow layer of the ionosphere, as observed on Earth. Similarly, atmospheric gravity waves have been observed by the European Venus Express's Visible and Infrared Thermal Imaging Spectrometer (VIRTIS) instrument. Such observations would enable VAMOS to determine the crustal structure and ionospheric variability of Venus without approaching the surface or atmosphere. Equipped with an instrument of modest size and mass, the baseline VAMOS spacecraft is designed to fit within an ESPA Grande form factor and travel to Venus predominantly under its own power. Trade studies have been conducted to determine mission architecture robustness to launch and rideshare opportunities. The VAMOS mission concept was studied at JPL as part of the NASA Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) program, which has not only produced a viable and exciting mission concept for a Venus SmallSat, but has also examined many issues facing the development of SmallSats for planetary exploration, such as SmallSat solar electric propulsion, autonomy, telecommunications, and resource management that can be applied to various inner solar system mission architectures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
EditorsGiovanni G. Fazio, Howard A. MacEwen, Makenzie Lystrup
ISBN (Print)9781510619494
StatePublished - 2018
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave - Austin, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2018Jun 15 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation 2018: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Airglow
  • Atmosphere
  • Infrared
  • Ionosphere
  • Remote Sensing
  • SEP
  • Seismology
  • SmallSat
  • Venus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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