The planet Venus, sometimes referred to as Earth’s “evil twin,” formed closer to the sun and has subsequently developed very differently from our own. It has no magnetic field, a thick atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide, a “runaway” greenhouse effect (meaning heat is entirely trapped), and a surface hot enough to melt lead.
Over the following ten years, a number of unmanned research missions will examine how and why that occurred. However, some scientists now want to send a crewed expedition for a flyby there as well.
Is that a wise plan?
Venus orbits the sun more closely than Earth because it has a smaller diameter. This implies that any surface water would have started its greenhouse impact by evaporating soon after it formed.
The Venus Year
The Venus year is shorter than ours (225 days), but it rotates much more slowly (243 days) and in a reverse direction to Earth. Due to the slow rotation caused by a weak magnetic field, the atmosphere is still being lost.
The atmosphere of Venus “super-rotates” more quickly than the planet. Images from numerous missions display clouds with sulphuric acid droplet-based V-shaped formations.
Some scientists have hypothesized that Venus’ clouds may, at some heights, contain habitable conditions despite the hostile environment.
Recent measurements that appear to demonstrate phosphine, which is continuously produced by bacteria on Earth and is a possible indicator of life, in Venus’ clouds have been hotly contested.
We obviously need to take more measurements and conduct more research to determine where it comes from.
Several earlier probes have provided us with the information we currently have about Venus. For instance, between 1970 and 1982, the Soviet Venera 7-14 probes were able to touch down on the hostile surface of Venus, endure for up to two hours, and transmit pictures and data.
However, there are still unanswered concerns concerning Venus’s evolution that are important for figuring out which planets around other stars might support life.
Scientists studying Venus should have a field day in the upcoming ten years. Veritas and DaVinci+, two missions scheduled to launch in 2028–2030, were chosen by NASA in 2021.
The Space Agency
EnVision will be put into orbit by the European Space Agency in the early 2030s. These missions, which compliment one another and are unmanned, will help us learn more about Venus’ environment and history.
In order to ascertain Venus’ geological history, rock composition, and the significance of early water, Veritas will survey the planet’s surface.
DaVinci+ is made up of an orbiter and a tiny probe that will enter the planet’s atmosphere and measure its composition as well as investigate how the planet formed and evolved and see if it ever had an ocean.
EnVision will investigate the planet’s surface, subsurface, and trace gas atmosphere. Radar will be used to map the surface more precisely than ever before.
Shukrayaan-1, an unmanned mission planned by India, and Venera-D, an idea put out by Russia.
Are Crewed Flybys Necessary?
In the late 1960s, it was proposed to use an Apollo capsule to transport people around Venus in a crewed flyby. But after Apollo was completed, this notion was abandoned.
The idea is now being discussed once more, most recently in journal papers and at a recent meeting of the International Astronautical Federation, an advocacy group, in September 2022.
The Artemis Project
The Artemis project, which aims to orbit the Moon, and other crewed mission ideas have led to this. The plan would be to orbit Venus with a crew aboard and then come back to Earth.
This would give researchers the chance to experiment with deep-space methods such as how to manage a crewed mission with large communication lags with Earth.
Thus, it might get us ready for a more complicated crewed Mars trip. The conditions are far too extreme for the crew to attempt a landing or genuine atmospheric research on Venus.
The experts who support this theory contend that using Venus’ gravity to change the spacecraft’s course toward Mars might save time and energy in comparison to traveling straight from Earth to Mars.
That’s because the latter method would necessitate an alignment of the two planets’ orbits, necessitating waiting for the ideal time both on the way there and back.
Going directly from Earth to Mars might keep designs simpler, while a crewed voyage to Mars would be rather difficult.
Why Would It Be Difficult To Find Living Things?
It won’t be any simpler to find living things if humans are sent to a planet that may contain them. It’s dangerous because we could contaminate the atmosphere before we find any life.
Due to the closer proximity to the Sun, there would also be substantial temperature issues and more radiation from solar flares.
Furthermore, a flyby mission like this would only allow for a few hours of data collection on the inbound and departure routes.
Will This Project Be Of Any Worth?
It would be a very costly endeavor, but it would undoubtedly result in some incredible photos and valuable extra data. This would not significantly extend the comprehensive and extensive tailored research now planned.
As a result, I think it’s quite improbable that there will be crewed missions to Venus.There have also been theoretical, more fantastical investigations, such as directing crewed airships to hover in Venus’ atmosphere as opposed to simply passing by.
This is a nice notion that might advance research more than a flyby, but it is still a long way out and an impossible dream at this time.
We are currently limited to crewed exploration in low-Earth orbit. However, the Artemis project seeks to ferry people around the Moon while also constructing a facility named Gateway in lunar orbit.
This is being built to conduct scientific research, permit crewed Moon missions, and most importantly, test deep space operations such as refueling and functioning in a remote environment that could eventually help us reach Mars without undergoing training at Venus.