NASA Planning a Possible Venus Mission

The attempt to explore the vast mystery that is space has quite the storied history. In years past, exploring space has been with humans traveling to these new locations — such as Apollo 11 — and flyovers with semi-autonomous spacecraft. One of the first flyovers of a planet was done by Mariner 1 over Venus. Mariner 1 was the first scheduled to do its mission in July of 1962, but it failed to navigate correctly. In August of 1962, however, Mariner 2 launched and was able to do a successful flyover of Venus — marking the first surveillance pass of Venus done by the United States. Since then, there have been 42 missions to Venus.  

Courtesy of NASA

While flyovers of Venus have continued to this day — such as the BepiColumbo spacecraft, NASA plans to send a rover to the fiery planet. NASA, in the past, has used the Mars rover to explore Mars, for example. With so much success with rovers in aiding the exploration of Mars, NASA is looking to use this same concept to search the surface of Venus, proving to be a challenge. With a tentative launch time set in 2026, scientists and researchers hope to understand Venus’s environment better. 

The environment of Venus has earned quite a reputation. The surface of Venus has been nicknamed Hell because of its temperatures. Scientists have even said it is where they send landers to die because the environment’s heat destroys them. They will need a new rover that will withstand the planet’s massive temperatures of close to 1000°F and last for more than two hours before being destroyed. Only three Russian landers have lasted longer than an hour on the surface. Scientists have concluded that building a rover that will rely on electronics is not necessarily the correct choice. Instead, they wish to use mechanics that can withstand thermal expansion. Engineers may use stainless steel and titanium alloys to build the rovers. There are three missions planned to explore the planet. Da Vinci+ would explore the planet’s noble gases and structures; Veritas determined to study the planet’s geological history; and Llisse to monitor the planet’s meteorology. These missions would be a combined effort by America, India, Europe, and Russia. Scientists want to use the day-night cycle of Venus, which entails 117 days per one cycle, to study such things as the surface temperature and pressure. If successful, this may mean that humans can remotely further explore the hellish planet. If history has taught humankind anything, it is that imagination can never be held back.

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