EVIDENCE of ancient alien life could be lurking on one of our nearest space neighbours: Venus.
These days, it seems like everyone is talking about celebrities going to space on private shuttles or Elon Musk getting man to Mars.
Venus has become somewhat of a forgotten planet, despite being closer to us than Mars and, arguably, more like Earth than the red planet in key ways.
Venus is roughly the same size and density as Earth. It is indeed closer to the Sun, but that doesn’t fully explain its toxic atmosphere and hellish surface.
Two Nasa-led missions to Venus – dubbed DAVINCI+ and VERITAS – are scheduled to trek to the planet next door and break through its violent atmosphere at the end of this decade.
With the information, data and images mined from the missions, researchers may get an answer as to whether Venus once looked like Earth.
“That quest for habitability is part of our search for signs of life in the Nasa framework,” Dr. James Garvin, the principal investigator for the DAVINCI+ mission to Venus, told The Sun in an exclusive interview. “We can all dare to hope.”
The DAVINCI+ mission will be equipped with special cameras to see through the thick atmosphere and additional technology to measure the chemical content of that atmosphere.
“We expect to discover a whole new catalog of chemistry,” Dr Garvin said.
The DAVINCI+ team does not expect the probe that will touchdown to last long – Dr Garvin predicts just 12 to 18 minutes of stable communication – but much will be achieved by mapping the planet from above and tracking the chemistry of the Venusian atmosphere.
“We can meet every one of our science objectives and others without ever touching the ground,” Dr Garvin said.
Set to launch in 2029, DAVINCI+ will forge through space for six months until arriving at our planetary neighbor.
When DAVINCI+ arrives, VERITAS will already be orbiting Venus on a mission of its own.
“VERITAS will look for water vapor in volcanic plumes – if it detects any that will mean water can still be found in the interior of Venus,” Dr Anthony Freeman, a program manager at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory told The Sun in an email.
“The verified discovery of volcanic activity would rewrite history for our sister planet,” Dr Freeman wrote.
Dr Garvin said the DAVINCI mission was designed to have “excess capacity” so after data has been harvested from Venus, the ship can continue to operate in space and potentially lead to more discoveries.
Both projects are many years in the making and will, among other things, answer whether Venus was once habitable or not.
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