Spacecraft to Venus to Search For Signs of Life

spacecraft to venus

Rocket Lab will launch their Venus Life Finder probe aboard their Electron rocket. Their multipurpose spacecraft will be smaller and less expensive than NASA’s current Venus probes.

VERITAS will be the first medium-class mission since Magellan in the 1990s to explore Venus. It will produce exquisite maps of this distant world.

Sputnik 7

The spacecraft’s orbiter will serve as an airborne chemistry lab and detect various aspects of Venus’ atmospheric composition. Furthermore, it will peruse Venus’ mountainlike highlands to see whether they resemble continents on Earth as an important test of plate tectonics theory.

Venera 7 had an unfortunate landing on 15 December 1970, tearing its parachute and making contact with the ground before transmitting data before succumbing to intense atmospheric pressures and dying due to overcompressibility.

Venera 8

Venera 8 reached Venus on July 22, 1972. Its TV cameras captured images of its harsh landscape before relaying information regarding surface pressure, temperature and light levels back home.

This probe measured wind speed variations with altitude, with winds slowing to 1 meter per second at 10 kilometers below. These findings mirrored earlier measurements taken from other Venera probes. Furthermore, this instrument identified flat, basalt-like rocks on its surface.

Venera 9

Soviet Venera 15 and 16 twin spacecraft were the first to use radar to map Venus’ surface, producing maps which revealed an intricate maze of lava-covered slopes and fault systems.

The lander survived for 53 minutes on the surface before high temperatures and crushing pressures finally claimed it. While alive, it streamed invaluable images back to Earth via orbiter transmission.

NASA’s VERITAS mission will visit Venus next, to better understand why its development differed so drastically from that of Earth. It is scheduled for launch sometime during the 2030s.

Venera 10

Soviet Veneras 9 and 10 launched orbiters and landers to Venus. One landed safely and transmitted surface data for 53 minutes after successfully touching down on its target planet’s surface.

The probes will search for any signs of complex chemistry in Venus’ clouds that could indicate its former climate and possible presence of oceans of water, both essential conditions for life to exist on a planet.

Venera 11

DAVINCI+, managed by Rocket Lab and scheduled for launch in 2023, will send a probe sweeping through Venus’ clouds searching for evidence of complex chemical processes that might indicate life once existed there.

Venera 9 to 12 missions included both a cruise “bus” and lander craft. The cruise bus served as a data relay during close encounters with Venus, transmitting data back to Earth after atmospheric penetration.

Venera 12

One spacecraft managed to stay on Venus for just two hours before succumbing to its crushing barometric pressure and toxic carbon dioxide-sulfuric acid atmosphere. Rocket Lab intends to send an Electron rocket equipped with more durable probe to Venus.

India will send a mission called Shukrayaan-1 that uses radar to map Venus’ surface and analyze its rocks and atmosphere, similar to Russian plans for Venera-D.

Venera 13

An array of spacecraft, led by the US-European VERITAS mission, is on their way to Venus to search for evidence that it once hosted oceans of water and help scientists better understand why its temperature has become so scorching.

Venera 13’s landing mission lasted 57 minutes – far longer than anticipated and sent back vivid color images that sent shockwaves through humanity.

Venera 14

Venera 15 and 16 craft completed their flyby to Venus and created its first radar map, while Venera 4 and 5 landers (and later satellites) released most of their payload before entering its atmosphere; both survived longer than anticipated under parachute protection.

DAVINCI will include an orbiter/lander hybrid craft, two minisatellites, and an aerobot (a helium balloon robot) to search for signs of life within Venus’ dense cloud cover.

Venera 15

VERITAS will utilize an array of instruments to study Venus’ atmosphere and surface. DAVINCI+ serves as an orbiter that will observe these same features using ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths.

Scientists have used information gleaned from past probes to create an impressionistic image of Venus as an earth-like world with vast landscapes carved by volcanic activity and fault systems that create scar-like fault lines resembling scar tissue. But this image may not be completely accurate.

Venera 16

The flyby spacecraft carried two Venera-style landers and two balloons that entered Venusian atmosphere, collecting data that showed that ridges and grooves on Venus’ surface are caused by tectonic shifts. Together with radar images, their information revealed this fact.

NASA’s DAVINCI+ will use its radar system to map Venus in far greater detail than Magellan did, while Europe’s 2031 mission EnVision will add ultraviolet and infrared cameras as part of their own mission to complement VERITAS.

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