NASA mulls mission to venus
Representational image. Courtesy: phys.org

NASA Mulls Mission To Venus After Discovery Of Possible Life

An international research team on September 14, Monday, described evidence of potential life (microbes) residing in the harshly acidic Venusian clouds

September 17, 2020

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA is considering to approve one mission to Venus by April 2021.

This mission will be a part of two planetary science missions from four proposals under review.

The scientists feel that the mission to Venus help determine whether or not the planet harbours life.

It may be mentioned here that an international research team on September 14, Monday, described evidence of potential life (microbes) residing in the harshly acidic Venusian clouds.

The research team found traces of phosphine- a gas that on Earth- which is produced by bacteria inhabiting oxygen-free environments.

The revelation by the research team provided strong potential evidence of life beyond Earth, and hence the mission to Venus caught wings.

It may be mentioned here that NASA in February this year shortlisted four proposed missions.

These missions are now being reviewed by a NASA panel- two of which would involve robotic probes to Venus.

One of those, called DAVINCI+, would send a probe into the Venusian atmosphere.

The three other proposals include- IVO, a mission to Jupiter’s volcanically active moon Io; Trident, a fly-by trek to map Neptune’s icy moon Triton; and VERITAS, the second of the proposed Venus missions that instead would focus on understanding the planet’s geological history.

NASA has said it may choose one or two of the missions.

It may be mentioned here that the search for life elsewhere in the solar system has until now not focused on Venus.

NASA in July launched a next-generation rover to look for traces of potential past life on Mars.

However, in light of September 14's findings, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that is “time to prioritize Venus.”

In a statement, Bridenstine said the selection process for the new potential missions will be tough "but I know the process will be fair and unbiased".

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