The first private mission to Venus will have just five minutes to hunt for life 

Although subsequent studies Doubt about the detection of phosphineThe preliminary study has reignited interest in the flower. In the aftermath, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) chose Three new missions To travel to the planet and investigate, among other questions, whether its conditions may have supported life in the past. China and India also have plans to send missions to Venus. Phosphine reminds everyone how poorly characterization is [this planet] Colin Wilson of Oxford University was one of the deputy principal scientists of the Venus mission in Europe, EnVision.

But the bulk of these tasks will not yield results until later in the 1920s or even the 1930s. Astronomers wanted answers now. Thankfully, Peter Beck, CEO of New Zealand-based launch company Rocket Lab, did. As long as Venus has fascinated you, Beck has been approached by a group of MIT scientists about a daring mission that could use one of the company’s rockets to search for life on Venus much sooner—with a launch in 2023. (A backup launch window is available at January 2025.)

Phosphine or not, scientists believe that if life existed on Venus, it might be in the form of microbes inside Small drops of sulfuric acid that floats high above the planet. While the surface appears largely inhospitable, with temperatures high enough to melt lead and pressures similar to those at the bottom of Earth’s oceans, conditions 45 to 60 kilometers above the surface in Venus’ clouds are noticeably milder.

“I’ve always felt like Venus has a strong rap,” Beck says. The discovery of phosphine was the catalyst. We need to go to Venus to look for life.”

Mission details, the first privately funded project to another planet, has Posted now. Rocket Lab has developed a small, multipurpose spacecraft called the Photon, the size of a dining table, that can be sent to multiple locations in the solar system. It was a NASA mission to the moon Launched in June. In this Venus mission, another Photon spacecraft will be used to drop a small probe into the planet’s atmosphere.

The probe is currently being developed by a team of less than 30 people led by Sarah Seeger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It will launch as early as May 2023, and should take five months to reach Venus, arriving in October 2023. At a cost of less than $10 million, the mission — funded by Rocket Lab, MIT, and undisclosed philanthropists. High risk but low cost, only 2% of the price of each NASA Venus mission.

“This is the simplest, cheapest, and best thing you can do to try and find great,” says Seager.

The probe is small, weighing only 45 pounds and measuring 15 inches wide, slightly larger than a basketball hoop. Its cone-shaped design features a heat shield at the front, which will bear the brunt of the intense heat generated when the probe – fired by the photon pre-arrival spacecraft – hits Venus’s atmosphere at 40,000 kilometers per hour.

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