While there is a lot being talked about and reported of NASA’s all-important Artemis mission which aims at sending humans back to the Moon by 2024 and the US space agency also has long-term plans to send astronauts to Mars, we often forget that there are other nearby planets which can also be targetted by space scientists.
However, a team at NASA is keeping a close watch on Venus which is probably the closest neighbouring planet to Earth, Wired has reported. It is also one of the least understood planets of our solar system. According to the report, the US space agency is working on a new probe called Long-Lived In-situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE) which is being designed in a way that can last up to 60 days on the surface of Venus.
The components of the LLISSE probe are engineered to resist the high temperature, pressure and reactive atmosphere of the hot planet, where previous Soviet spacecraft in 1966 could make it only for a few hours, the report said. The NASA probe is going to be small cube with each side less than 10 inches and it will be containing tools for testing Venus’ atmosphere and geology, as per the report.
Venus is often considered to be an evil twin of the Earth mainly because of the mass and size being largely being similar and space researchers have said that the neighbouring planet could have had liquid water on its surface a couple of billions of years ago.
According to the Wired report, the LLISSE probe is being done keeping in view the Venera-D mission, which is a joint program between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The Venus-bound Venera-D mission would involve an orbiter and two landers. It was initially targeted for launch in 2013, however, it has now been pushed to 2026 or later.
At present, there is no clarity if LLISSE is going to ever make the trip to the neighbouring hot planet, however, exploring the closest neighbouring planet is a top priority for space researchers.
Back in January, the joint US-Russian Venera-D team had released its phase 2 report which detailed on the science that the lander could conduct on Venus, and earlier this month a workshop held in Russia examined the potential landing sites on our neighbouring planet.