Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Ted Stryk over Europa

Russia's Venera-D mission (DPS-EPSC 2011)

Posted by Ted Stryk

05-10-2011 10:29 CDT

Topics: Venus missions before 2000, Future Mission Concepts, Venus, conference report

During the afternoon poster session at the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting, I had a long talk with Ludmila Zasova (IKI) about Russia's Venera-D mission to Venus. It has been pushed back to 2018, and been scaled back significantly. In its original conception, it had a large orbiter, sub-satellite, two balloons, two small landers, and a large, long-lived lander. While this sounds spectacular, it also sounded dangerously complex for Russia's first mission to Venus since the mid-1980s.

In its new incarnation, the orbiter, of Phobos-Grunt heritage, is still large and will have extensive instrumentation, including an ultraviolet imaging spectrometer. The orbiter's mission will primarily focus on the atmosphere, studying its chemistry, greenhouse properties, and super-rotation. It will use infrared instruments to study surface-atmosphere interactions and look for volcanic activity, but unlike the earlier incarnation of the mission, it will not carry a radar instrument. The sub-satellite for plasma investigations has been retained.

Ovda Regio, Venus

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Ovda Regio, Venus
Parts of Venus are covered with landforms called tesserae that result from a long and complex history of folding, faulting, and volcanic infilling of the Venusian surface.

The balloons and landers have been replaced with a single, large lander which will largely build on the heritage of the Vega landers, which launched in 1985. It will have a maximum surface lifetime of three hours, based on battery life. Unlike the Soviet landers, this one will have a targeted landing. For the early Venera landers, Venus had yet to be mapped, so there was no way to choose a landing site. The Venera-D lander will be targeted to one of the complex, enigmatic tesserae, regions of complex ridges that are unique to Venus. There are many theories as to the origin of tessera terrain, but compositional data from the surface is needed to discriminate among them.

The lander will have extensive instrumentation to study the surface and atmosphere. One of the most exciting things is that it will have a several panoramic cameras and engineering cameras that will take images that show the surface in a more human, complete perspective, than the U-shaped scans taken by Veneras 9,10, 13, and 14, giving us back on Earth a much better feel for what the region is "like". Given the complexity of the terrain they plan to land in, these views should be spectacular. It will, incidentally, carry old-style panoramic cameras as well in order to get some really close-up views of the surface very close to the lander.

While many of you may be disappointed at the scaling back of this mission, I believe it is for the best. Given the funding available, which, while much better than in the 1990s, is still constrained, this is a mission that has a real chance of actually flying. No other space agency has a mission to land on Venus (or build a new orbiter, although Venus Express continues to operate and Akatsuki may eventually enter some sort of orbit around the planet) in planning or development, so this is likely our only chance to make a major advance in Venusian exploration in the coming decade. Best of luck to the Venera-D team!

Poster on Venera-D mission presented at DPS/EPSC 2011

Ted Stryk

Poster on Venera-D mission presented at DPS/EPSC 2011
 
See other posts from October 2011

 

Or read more blog entries about: Venus missions before 2000, Future Mission Concepts, Venus, conference report

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

South Georgia island

ATV-5 and a waning moon
Moscow at night
Squished supermoon
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!