The planet Venus, also known as Venus and Venus, is one of the hottest planets in the solar system, which can be compared to a hell where even lead melts. However, scientists are always interested in answering this question: Can microbial life be found on the planet Venus? Several research teams are developing missions to study microbial life on Venus. In this article, we will have an overview of the missions that have been carried out with the aim of discovering the planet Venus before, as well as the missions that are planned for the future.
Venus is the second planet from the sun and the closest planet to earth. This planet is one of the four inner planets of the solar system, which are called terrestrial planets. to this planet oftentwin of earth” they say; Because it is similar in size and density to the earth. However, Earth and Venus are not identical twins and there are fundamental differences between them.
Although Mercury is twice as close to the Sun and receives four times as much energy as Venus, Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System. What is the reason for that? The thick atmosphere and carbon dioxide present in Venus cause the greenhouse effect to intensify. The average surface temperature of Venus is 470 degrees Celsius, which is really a high temperature.
According to the mentioned characteristics, this planet is not suitable for life; But this has not always been the case. Scientists believe that the planet may have contained liquid water for two billion years – early in the formation of the solar system. Water is also the main parameter for the formation of life. However, scientists do not know how Venus went from a potentially habitable planet to the present hell.
Venus was one of the first planets to be studied by Earth spacecraft. The surface conditions of Venus are such that the probe cannot last long; Its atmosphere is fifty times denser than Earth’s and the temperature is so high that metals melt. However, according to their orbital studies, scientists claim that Venus already had deep oceans, which probably provided the right environment for life to develop.
By studying Venus, scientists can find out how Earth-like planets change over time and how life on them is destroyed. By modeling the earth’s climate in comparison with the changes of Venus, it is possible to remove the risk factors of the extinction of life on earth.
The sixties and seventies
Venus was the first planet to be studied by a spacecraft. Since the beginning of the space age, a total of 23 missions have successfully studied the planet (out of 41 missions that have been launched, including all the missions that have even passed by Venus without the intention of studying the planet). This success rate is much higher than the successful Mars missions.
In 1962, the spacecraftMiner 2NASA flew for the first time within 35,000 km of this planet and found that Venus is a very hot planet without a magnetic field. The probe will also detect the slow-rotating planet Venus.
Over the next three years, the Soviet Union focused on studying the planet and sending various probes and spacecraft to gain additional information. Of course, it should be noted that most of the probes that the Soviets sent into space in their first attempts were lost. From this category, we can refer to the set of “probes”Venus” Cited.
However, in 1967, the probe “Venus 4managed to send the first data in the lower levels of the atmosphere – a distance of about 25 to 55 km. With the help of these data, it was confirmed that the dominant composition of the atmosphere of the planet Venus is carbon dioxide.
After two more attempts, the Soviets finallyVenus 7“in 1970, he landed on the surface of this planet using a parachute. It was the first autonomous vehicle to land on another planet. This probe managed to send data for 23 minutes, with the help of which scientists managed to measure the exact temperature of the planet’s surface and its pressure. The surface temperature was 474 degrees Celsius and the pressure was 90 bar, which is equivalent to the pressure of a thousand meters under water on the ground.
In 1974, the American explorerMariner 10» Recorded the first remote-controlled ultraviolet images of the planet Venus and studied the strange movements of the atmosphere. The probe also demonstrated for the first time the rapid rotation of the atmosphere’s layers. The following year, the Soviet Union achieved another major achievement with the release of black-and-white photographs of the planet’s surface. These images by the probesVenus 9” And “Venus 10» had been sent (amazing iron probes that managed to survive at said temperature for about an hour and transmit information to Earth).
Four years later, NASA with the missiongalvanizedHe again tried to study the planet Venus. It was a dual and complex mission in 1978 in which “Pioneer Venus 1” And “Pioneer Venus 2“, which was actually an orbiter with several landers, to study the atmospheric layers and surface compositions thoroughly. The obtained data showed that in addition to carbon dioxide, SO2 and H2SO4 are the main components of the main layers of the atmosphere of this planet.
The mission also completed the first radar survey of the planet, revealing volcanoes on the planet’s surface.
During these years, the Soviet Union was also trying to discover more. In 1978, theyVenus 11” And “Venus 12” were sent into space and studied the southern hemisphere of the planet Venus. Data collected from these two missions were analyzed for two years.
In the following, “Venus 13” And “Venus 14In 1982, they managed to produce the first color images of the surface of Venus. A robot also collected samples from the landing area of the lander, which were analyzed as basalt.
The eighties and the continuation of the discoveries of the planet Venus
The eighties were the golden age of Venus discoveries for the Soviet Union. Russian scientists were ignoring their failures in sending spacecraft to Mars with the successes in the field of Venus study. In this regard,Venus 15” And “Venus 16In 1983, they succeeded in starting the radar mapping of the northern hemisphere of the planet.
In 1985, two probes named “Vega 1” And “Vega 2» were launched into the atmosphere of Venus to study the surface winds of the planet. These probes were also able to analyze soil samples.
The last major mission of the planet Venus dates back to 1989, in which the orbiter “Magellan“by shuttle”AtlantisHe went into space. Magellan’s main instrument was a radar that managed to map 98% of the planet’s surface in high resolution from 1990 to 1994.
Because of the thick clouds, it was impossible to see the surface of Venus without radar. Magellan gave scientists very important results about Venus’ surface topography, subplate activity, and recently active volcanoes. The orbiter showed that all impact craters on the planet were formed within the last 700 million years.
This suggests that the surface of Venus was completely reshaped by a volcanic event that occurred across its surface; But the details of this incident are still under discussion.
Magellan found no sign of tectonic plates. In the earth, tectonic plates are actually the plates forming the outer crust that slide on the mantle layer and allow the heat inside the earth (the heat of volcanoes) to pass through them and come to the surface. The lack of these plates on Venus means that the volcanoes on its surface act differently.
In continuation of the Venus study missions, in 2006, the European Space Agency orbiter “Venus Expressthrew it into space. By observing hot spots on the surface and changing the amount of sulfur dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere over six years, this orbiter gathered valuable information about the planet’s volcanoes. Venus Express also discovered granite-like rocks all over the planet that require liquid water to form, and this issue strengthens the idea of past oceans on this planet.
After these efforts, the space programs focused on the study of Mars with the aim of finding a habitable planet, and Venus was almost forgotten.
Study the planet Venus, right now!
Currently, the spacecraftAkatsukiJapan is the only probe orbiting Venus. This spacecraft studies the atmosphere of Venus in light frequencies that the human eye cannot see. This data helps scientists get a better picture of what is happening above the planet’s surface.
NASA plans to launch a mission in 2028-2030 called “da Vinciand to study the planet Venus. This mission consists of an orbiter and an atmospheric lander. According to the plans, the probe will be able to track and measure the gases in the atmosphere of Venus with its high accuracy. By studying these gases, it is possible to find out how much water the oceans of this planet, which are now gone, had and existed for many years.
In addition, in the 2030s, the orbiterVERITAS» NASA will launch into space. This orbiter with a tool called “InSAR“, which performs spectrometry, will be the first NASA spacecraft to explore Venus since the 1990s. VERITAS will have a radar with a resolution 100 times higher than Magellan. This will help scientists better study the structure of the planet’s surface and how it evolved to its present state. with rotation VERITAS Around Venus, scientists hope to find out how Venus lost its potential to become a habitable planet. They also hope to be able to find out the reason for the absence of tectonic plates on the planet Venus with the help of this orbiter’s data.
Mission “EnVisionThe European Space Agency continues the missions we mentioned and will not be launched earlier than 2031. After exploring the top of the planet’s atmosphere, this orbiter will land a probe on the surface. During this one-hour descent, the probe will take thousands of measurements and take pictures of the surface. The probe probably did not survive due to the extremely high temperature of Venus’ surface, but it could transmit valuable information to Earth. In this mission, a comprehensive view of the planet Venus, from its core to its atmosphere, will be provided.
In this regard, India is also planning an orbit named “Shukrayaanto send it into space with the aim of studying the planet Venus. This orbiter, equipped with radar and infrared camera for surface mapping, is scheduled to be launched in 2024. Shukrayaan has been studying this planet for four years from a distance of six hundred kilometers. This spacecraft, which is capable of carrying cargo weighing up to 100 kilograms, will carry scientific instruments made by India and other countries such as France and Russia. One of these toolsVIRALIt is called that it actually studies the atmospheric gases of Venus in the infrared.
Frequently asked questions
It is said in history that Galileo managed to observe this planet for the first time with the help of his telescope in 1610.
NASA’s Mariner 2 was the first spacecraft to visit a planet beyond Earth when it flew past Venus on December 14, 1962. The data collected in one 42-minute scan forever changed our view of Earth’s nearest neighbor.
Although the possibility of life on this planet is very small, at an altitude of 50 km from the surface, the temperature is much lower, and this makes some scientists hopeful that maybe microbial life exists at this level of the atmosphere or can form in the future. However, this issue has not yet been investigated comprehensively and definitively.