Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022

Forget Mars, NASA considers a mission to Venus

India has also come up with its ‘Shukrayaan-1’ mission for Venus to analyse its chemistry by orbiting around the planet.

The presence of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus is something that was not expected and is "unexplained. (NASA/File Photo)

After it was discovered through telescopic research that clouds hanging in the Venusian atmosphere poses potential signs of life – which seems to be similar to Phosphine gas produced by microbes and microorganisms on the earth, astronomers and space experts have become more than interested to further dissect into an unknown world of our twin planet, not identical twin though. Taking a cue from the results, U.S based space agency NASA is considering launching a mission to Venus to probe and find substantial evidence of life if any.

It is not for the first time, that such a mission to Venus will be launched, like myriad Mars Missions, several missions have been launched in the last century primarily by Russia, then the USSR and by the U.S through NASA as per information cited in ‘The New York Times’. Walking down the memory lane, Russia, from 1961 onwards launched many Soviet programs of Venus over the course of decades. But it was not a mean feat to land on the Venusian surface, and neither it is currently, where pressure is so high that the Soviet Spacecraft was demolished in a matter of few minutes. Venera 4 in 1967 revealed that Venus’s air consisted largely of greenhouse gas trapping Carbon-dioxide providing a green tint to its atmosphere. Thereafter, Soviet’s Venera 9, in 1975, took the pictures of the surface of Venus for the first time, revealing its poisonous atmosphere. Russia launched many missions thereafter but concluded it in 1985.

NASA’s Mariner 2 and Pioneer spacecrafts also ventured into the Venusian atmosphere in 1962 and 1978 respectively, revealing the type of environment on clouds and surface of the planet. In 1990 Magellan spacecraft found that Venus’s atmosphere largely consisted of the volcanic lava flow. In the 21st Century, Europe’s Venus Express and Japan’s Akatsuki have continued with their probe, as published by ‘The New York Times’ website.

Looking at the future prospects of the space probe NASA has shortlisted two spacecraft missions which are DAVINCI+ and VERITAS, both of which seemingly have the probability to be chosen as a final spacecraft for the venture. India has also come up with its ‘Shukrayaan-1’ mission for Venus to analyse its chemistry by orbiting around the planet.

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Pertaining to the hellish conditions on the planet and uncertainties related to the space probe missions, it will be suitable to predict that the finding of any potential life on Venus will absolutely be a long haul, requiring decades of rigorous research to overcome various scientific challenges in the future.

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First published on: 17-09-2020 at 05:23:05 pm
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