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Journey to Venus: Russia, NASA Team Up for Hottest Space Mission

Nov 22, 2016 04:08 AM EST
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NASA and Russia have resumed their discussions about a potential joint mission to explore Venus in the late 2020s. The discussion has been put for two years now, but was postponed because of the sanctions imposed against Russia over Ukraine in 2014.

According to United Press International, the mission called Venera-D aims to land a space probe on the surface of Venus and spend several days conducting research before it gets destroyed by the intense heat. Russianspaceweb.com reported that Venera-D is the first Russian project in the post-Soviet period aimed to explore Venus. "D" stands for Dolgozhivushaya (long-lasting).

"A joint working team put forward several scenarios of the project in October, with Russian and American competences complementing each other. After that we discussed the matter with NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, who confirmed NASA's interest to the Venus-D project," director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Zeleny told the Izvestiya Daily.

Named after the Roman Goddess of beauty, Venus is the second planet from the sun and our closest planetary neighbor. It is considered as the hottest planet in the solar system because its thick atmosphere traps heat in a runaway greenhouse effect. NASA said its surface temperature is hot enough to melt lead.

"We made a lot of progress," said David Senske, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is the U.S. co-chair of the Venera-D science definition team. "We heard a lot about what they had in mind. We've been told this is an IKI/Roscosmos endeavor, so they're in the driver's seat."

If the joint mission pushes through, it will not be the first time a spacecraft has reached the planet. The very first time that the human race had ever landed a spacecraft on Venus was in December 1970. The capsule of the Soviet Vega-2 robot station exploded in less than two hours because of extreme heat.

No official agreements had been made yet. Meanwhile, a number of European and Chinese agencies have also expressed their interest to participate in the mission.

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