The atmosphere on the surface of Venus is incredibly harsh. While it has plenty of beautiful clouds to look at—just like here on Earth—those clouds are made up of sulfuric acid. And while everyone loves a nice, warm temperature, the temperature on the surface of Venus is so hot it could turn lead into liquid. Combine that with the Category 5 hurricane winds that blow across the landscape and it’s pretty safe to say that Venus would not make a popular vacation destination.
Despite that fact, NASA could be putting Venus back on the list of potential places to explore in the coming years.
We’ve tried to put robots on the surface of Venus before, but they didn’t last more than just a couple of hours. However, researchers are itching to get more information on the second planet and they’ve started planning a beefed-up lander dubbed Venera-D.
Right now, the best estimates put the first launch of the Venus rover sometime in 2026. What’s really interesting about this particular project is that it’s a joint venture between NASA and the Russian agency Roscosmos. It’s a pairing that makes a lot of sense because, historically, the U.S. has had difficulties in getting equipment onto Venus’s surface, choosing instead to focus on Mars missions, where the Russians have experienced the opposite scenario.
Together, the two agencies hope to build a lander that can handle the extremely harsh conditions on the planet’s surface. A lander that could last months on Venus (instead of just hours or days) could provide never-before-seen scientific information about the planet.
Right now, the team is putting together a list of specific mission goals and determining what kind of equipment and technology would be necessary to achieve those goals. For example, no agency has been able to study the “Venusian dusk,” that period where half the planet transitions from daylight to dark.
For NASA, getting to Venus is actually an easier task than going to Mars, so despite the public focus on the Red Planet, Venus is never far from the mission boards.
The committee tasked with building the Venus landing missions still have a lot to do, but don’t be surprised if we start hearing a lot more about pending missions in the coming years.