Amid details about the fiery planet Venus emerging in a new study, Roscosmos (the Russian space agency) announced new plans for an independent expedition to Venus “without involving wide international cooperation.” This new mission will be in addition to the already planned Venera-D mission in collaboration with the United States.
There was earlier confusion that Russia might sever international ties in the existing program. However, Russian media later reported that the “national independent project” will be separate from existing programs.
The head of Russia’s space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, said, “we believe that Venus is a Russian planet,” according to the TASS news agency. “Our country was the first and only one to successfully land on Venus. The [Russian] spacecraft gathered information about the planet — it is like hell over there,” he says.
The research published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday explores the discovery of phosphine gas in Venus’ atmosphere. The theory for the gas’s formation could be linked to life on the planet. The idea is shocking, as Venus (being the hottest planet in the Solar System) has surface temperatures at about 900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead.
Venus is even hotter than Mercury, which is the closest to the Sun in terms of distance. However, the presence of Venus’ thick atmosphere induces a pronounced greenhouse effect.
After the new study was published, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced that the Breakthrough Initiatives program (funded by Yuri) will fund a study “into the possibility of primitive life” in the clouds of Venus. The study will be led by Sara Seager from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Roscosmos announced that it will explore the “evolutionary processes of Venus, which allegedly suffered a climatic catastrophe associated with the greenhouse effect.” This is in addition to studying the soil and atmosphere of the planet.
Roscosmos also announced last week that NASA refused to purchase a seat on the Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station for Spring 2021. This was expected, as SpaceX is beginning to deliver on its contract for the Commercial Crew Program, allowing NASA to launch its astronauts from American soil.
NASA has also announced that the first operational SpaceX mission to the ISS “Crew-1” will launch in October (pushed back from September). NASA also announced the crew for the “Crew-2” mission, targeting a launch for Spring 2021.
“The Crew-2 astronauts will remain aboard the space station for approximately six months as expedition crew members, along with three crewmates who will launch via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft,” NASA’s press release says. “The increase of the full space station crew complement to seven members – over the previous six – will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in space.”
NASA also has said that it is still willing to send astronauts into space via a Soyuz rocket in addition to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon—but in a barter system. That means that both agencies swap one member of their crew to ride in the other’s ship, forming a strong international tie. Roscosmos is yet to publicly respond to that idea.
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