The agency is preparing for the next big missions. This time they will be associated with our planet's twin, Venus. Her latest research indicates that some life forms may have flourished there and may even today.
No biological life will survive on the surface of Venus. The temperature is so high that lead melts and lead rains fall. Almost the entire planet's surface is bathed in lava, and the atmosphere is filled with toxic gases and carbon dioxide, which enhances the greenhouse effect. Although all this sounds ominous, NASA is preparing research missions there. A special vehicle will examine the atmosphere and reveal the secrets of this planet to us.
Astronomers have recently discovered dark clouds in the planet’s atmosphere. Until now, they were one big secret for them. However, more research has shown that these are so-called absorbers, that is, the areas that absorb the most ultraviolet light. It turns out these puzzling "particles" have similar capabilities and potentials to microorganisms found in the Earth's atmosphere. Astrobiologists believe that despite the hell that prevails on the surface and in the atmosphere, we can deal with common microscopic life groups that have been developing there for billions of years.
Two new missions will be carried out as part of the Discovery Program. The first of these is VERITAS. It will focus on mapping the planet's surface. Meanwhile, the second, DAVINCI + is to allow exploring the gases surrounding the planet. This mission is crucial for NASA. In addition, the agency is planning another one called Ray for Extreme Environments and Zonal Explorations (Breeze) for the program of the Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) agency. It is a special space vehicle that resembles stingrays, i.e. cartilaginous skeletal sea fish with a flat, disk-like shape. Interestingly, the vehicle would really be equipped with fins and thanks to them efficiently "swim" in the atmosphere of Venus torn by strong winds.
Several billion years ago, the atmosphere of Venus was more similar to Earth's, and there were probably significant amounts of liquid water on the surface, but the evaporation of these primitive oceans caused an avalanche greenhouse effect, up to a critical level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Astrobiologists believe that, despite the hell of the atmosphere, we can be dealing with common microscopic life groups that have been calmly developing there for billions of years.
We heard that NASA intends to carry out all missions in the 2020s. Most probably, even before humans land on Mars, the Earth's twin, as we say about Venus, will be as well explored as the Red Planet. However, Americans and Russians have much more ambitious plans for Venus. The governments of both countries want to send landers and probes there, and are even thinking about building in the atmosphere the first research base that is to become a window to this fascinating globe. Everything indicates that the 2020s may turn our understanding of space around us in the matter of extraterrestrial life.