General, Research, Technology

Russia is developing a spacecraft to study Venus. For the first time in 50 years

Venus is the second farthest from the Sunplanet and it is possible that there is life on it. It is believed that at an early stage of its existence, this planet had more favorable conditions for the existence of living organisms than Mars and even Earth. Once upon a time, Venus was even described as a planet with a humid climate and an abundance of yellow-orange vegetation. But historically, scientists are more interested in finding life on Mars than on Venus. The last time attempts to study this planet were undertaken by Soviet scientists in the 1970s, but this did not last long. Recently it became known that in 2027 Russian scientists plan to launch a new spacecraft, Venera-D, to study its atmosphere, surface and internal structure. But is it worth it? Let's see what the device can find interesting.

For the first time in many years Russia will study Venus. What can we find there?

Conditions on Venus

Scientists are confident that in the early stages of theirexistence Venus was very similar to the Earth. In 2009, the European spacecraft Venera-Express found hints on its surface that once upon a time there was a lot of water. But most of it has evaporated due to solar radiation, so now there is clearly not much liquid there. Venus is located very close to the Sun, so it warmed up very quickly and at the moment the conditions on its surface can hardly be called suitable for life. But living organisms can still exist there.

Photo of the surface of Venus taken by the spacecraft "Magellan"

At the moment, the surface temperature of Venusis about +470 degrees Celsius. The atmosphere contains a lot of sulfuric acid, which is also harmful to living organisms. Atmospheric pressure 92.1 times higher than Earth's is also a complete nightmare. But scientists believe that the so-called extremophiles may well take root on Venus. These are organisms that are able to adapt to even the harshest environmental conditions - I mentioned them in this article. It is also possible that life can exist in the upper atmosphere of Venus, because there are more favorable conditions for life.

Extremophiles also live on Earth, in the most unexpected places

Is there life on Venus?

Be that as it may, scientists have already found severalsigns of life on Venus. In 2020, a "marker of life", the gas phosphine, was discovered in its atmosphere. Scientists believe that it could not have arisen naturally and it is clearly produced by some living organisms. However, it may also be that phosphine occurs in the course of chemical processes that are simply unknown to scientists. The amino acid glycine was also discovered on Venus. Considering that amino acids are also important substances for life, the likelihood of the existence of any organisms on Venus becomes even higher.

Phosphine and glycine, clear markers of life, discovered on Venus in 2020

In general, the probability of the existence of life onVenus is 50 to 50. On the one hand, there is the phosphine and glycine described above, which can be produced by living organisms. But at the same time, it is very hot on the surface of the planet, and the atmosphere contains a lot of toxic substances. Either extremophiles live there, or organisms, the existence of which we do not even know about the possibility of existence. After all, one should not forget about alternative biochemistry - a number of theories and hypotheses about the existence of life forms that use other gases instead of air, and other liquids instead of water.

See also: There is growing evidence that Venus was once inhabited

Exploration of Venus

In the second half of the 20th century, the study of the distantthe planet was conducted within the framework of the Soviet program "Venus". The first spacecraft that was able to land on the surface of Venus and send at least some data was "Venera-7". It was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on August 17, 1970 and landed on the planet's surface on December 15 of the same year. It is thanks to this apparatus that we know about the temperature of the surface of Venus and its atmospheric pressure. But the spacecraft could not transmit other information, because it turned off after 20 minutes of operation.

Scheme of the structure of the interplanetary station "Venera-7"

From time to time, scientists learn more information.about Venus with the help of devices not intended for this. Most often, discoveries are made by accident. But in 2027, Russian researchers want to send the Venera-D spacecraft to a distant planet. If the development of the device and launch are successful, in 2029 it will begin to study its atmosphere, surface and internal structure. The planetary exploration program will be divided into several stages. For example, in 2034, researchers intend to deliver samples of the atmosphere and soil of Venus to Earth. They are planned to be studied in laboratory conditions.

It is important to note that "Venera-D" will not be the first apparatus for studying the planet of the same name. Such existed, but there were few of them and they belonged to other countries.

The development of the apparatus "Venera-D" will be carried out by NPO im. S.A. Lavochkin. It is part of the state corporation Roscosmos. It is not yet known what the apparatus will look like and what scientific instruments will be used in it.

The leaders are hoping for about the same.the Martian mission Perseverance. At the moment, the device that has landed on the surface of Mars is being mastered on a new planet and from time to time sends photos. But soon he should start collecting Martian soil, which will be stored in a special compartment inside the rover. Subsequently, an apparatus will fly after him, which will pick up the soil and deliver it to Earth for careful study.

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You can read more about how scientists as scientists try to find life on Venus in the material of my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova. Follow this link. Enjoy reading!