NASA has announced its plans to finance two asteroid missions, Lucy and Psyche, as well as a telescope. The space exploration agency has been reported to have ignored Venus.
NASA: Venus Ignored
Lori Glaze is a planetary scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She has asked the agency to explore Earth’s nearest neighbor. However, the agency completely ignored Venus. Since 1990, the agency has not visited the planet.
The latest funding for future Discovery missions involves low-cost planetary probes. Furthermore, two out of the five candidates targeted the planet in question, according to Science Mag. One of these mission would have been led by Glaze. However, it did not happen, despite Glaze’s belief that the time has come.
The two missions for Lucy and Psyche would launch in 2021 and 2023, respectively. The third project for a space-based telescope aims to observe near-Earth objects. The telescope would receive design financing for another year.
Patrick McGovern, geophysicist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, pointed out that non-Venus-related missions were given funding. NASA’s message was clear, it seems: Venus could wait.
The explanation for not choosing the planet involved the degree of difficulty involved. Venus’ thick clouds are capable of blocking sensors. Spacecrafts that float too far below the cloud region could encounter sulfuric acid droplets as well. The crafts could experience burning temperatures and excruciating pressure.
A Discovery mission for $450 million could act as a huge risk for such a planet. “Venus is more complicated than an asteroid,” said Bob Grimm, geophysicist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
NASA: Venus’ Microbial Life
Meanwhile, scientists from the U.S. and Russia are planning Venera-D, a new mission to Venus. The search for life is also part of it, as per Astrobio.
There is a possibility that an unmanned aerial vehicle might fly through the sulfuric acid clouds of Venus. The vehicle would then determine if the dark streaks absorbing ultraviolet radiation could be proof of microbial life.
In 2025, a joint mission from Roscosmos and NASA could be approved. The mission would execute remote-sensing observations of the planet and its atmosphere. Furthermore, the mission would implement a lander on the surface and look for future landing sites.
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