NASA and the Russian Space Program are working on a joint mission to Venus to investigate some of the planet’s biggest mysteries.
The mission is known as ‘Venera-D’ and it’s currently wrapping up it’s plan for submission to NASA and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute. The final report is expected by the end of this month.
The Venera-D mission is led by Russia. The team has been working on the project for over ten years inlcuding early versions of the initiative from 1960 – 1990; the Venera and Vega programs.
Russia has had a historic interest in Venus, but NASA has just recently gotten involved. The Russian annex of Crimea in 2014 caused the program to stall as NASA suspended communication with Roscosmos in the time, however the two countries began to collaborate once more in 2015.
Venera-D is aiming to be a pillar of Roscosmos success. Similar to NASA’s Mars Rovers, the Venera concept details the need for an orbiter that will study Venus for at least three years, and a lander that will operate on the planet’s surface.
Unfortunately the Venera lander will only last for roughly 30 days. Given the intense heat on Venus and the technical problems this can cause, the mission would be too costly to prolong the landers life any longer. Data collected by the rover will help scientists understand the composition of the super-hot planet.
Venus as we know it is too hot to support life. However temperatures remain optimal in it’s upper atmosphere (30 miles or 50 kilometers up). It’s believed that microbial life could live at these altitudes. A recent find detailing dark streaks in Venusian clouds have begun to cause a stir in the astronomical community.