NASA announced plans to launch a pair of missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030 — its first in decades — to study the atmosphere and geologic features of Earth’s so-called sister planet and better understand why the two emerged so differently.
GS-III: Science and Technology (Space Technology and advancements in Space Technology)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Venus
- Observations and explorations of Venus
- About NASA’s plans for Missions to Venus
- ISRO’s Mission Venus
- Venus is the second planet from the Sun and as the brightest natural object in Earth’s night sky after the Moon, Venus can cast shadows and can be, on rare occasions, visible to the naked eye in broad daylight.
- In Venus, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east, because it rotates in the opposite direction (East to West/Clockwise) to all but Uranus.
- It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. Because of this, the greenhouse effect on Venus is so strong that even though Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus has the hottest surface of any planet in the Solar System.
- The atmospheric pressure at the planet’s surface is about 92 times the sea level pressure of Earth.
- Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light.
- The water has probably photodissociated, and the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field.
- As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed.
Observations and explorations of Venus
- Due to its proximity to Earth, Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration.
- It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2 in 1962), and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7 in 1970).
- Venus’s thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991.
- Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus’s hostile surface conditions.
- Observations of the planet Venus include those in antiquity, telescopic observations, and from visiting spacecraft. Spacecraft have performed various flybys, orbits, and landings on Venus, including balloon probes that floated in the atmosphere of Venus.
- After the Moon, Venus was the second object in the Solar System to be explored by radar from the Earth.
- Ten Soviet probes have achieved a soft landing on the surface, with up to 110 minutes of communication from the surface, all without return.
- U.S.’s missions to Venus: Mariner series 1962-1974, Pioneer Venus 1 and Pioneer Venus 2 in 1978, Magellan in 1989.
- Russia’s mission to Venus: Venera series of space crafts 1967-1983, Vegas 1 and 2 in 1985.
- Japan’s Akatsuki was launched in 2010, however, the orbital insertion maneuver failed and the spacecraft was left in heliocentric orbit.
- Venus Express was a mission by the European Space Agency to study the atmosphere and surface characteristics of Venus from orbit.
Significance of Exploring Venus
- It will help to learn how Earth-like planets evolve and what conditions exist on Earth-sized exoplanets (planets that orbit a star other than our sun).
- It will help in modelling Earth’s climate, and serves as a cautionary tale on how dramatically a planet’s climate can change.
About NASA’s plans for Missions to Venus
- Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced two new robotic missions to Venus.
- The new missions will give fresh views of the planet’s atmosphere, made up mostly of carbon dioxide, down to the core.
- The two sister missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface.
- DaVinci Plus: It will be the first of the two, it will analyze the thick, cloudy Venusian atmosphere in an attempt to determine whether the inferno planet ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable. A small craft will plunge through the atmosphere to measure the gases.
- Veritas: It will be the second one seeking a geologic history by mapping the rocky planet’s surface.
ISRO’s Mission Venus
- ISRO has opened for its ―Mission Venus‖ seeking experiment ideas from space agencies, universities and researchers.
- It is planned to be launched in Mid-2023.
- It plans to study the planet from an elliptical orbit that is closest to Venus at 500 km and 60,000 km at the farthest end.
- It is currently being handled by the Space Science Programme Office.
- If the project is approved would be ISRO‘s third interplanetary mission after Chandrayaan – 1 and Mars Orbiter Mission.
-Source: The Hindu