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Why Venus remains a "mysterious planet"

Venus receives some rare attention thanks to NASA's Parker Solar Probe. It will swing on its way through the planet to study the solar atmosphere.

Here and Now Peter O Dowd speaks with the astronomer Dean Regas ( @DeanRegas ) about the NASA mission and what is known about Venus and is unknown

Interview Highlights

The logistics of the solar probe from Parker Solar Probe and the records that will break the probe

"It's one of those things that you think: 'All right, we'll be a mission flying into the sun. "Well, that sounds kind of light and hard in another way, you think," Okay, well, we can put things on the sun. That's easy, it's up there, it's big. "But the problem is we're going around the sun and the earth so fast ̵

1; we're going around the sun about 66,000, 67,000 miles an hour – and we actually have to send a spacecraft off the ground and then slow it down, leaving it And just as you said, Venus will be a break for us.

"It will break all the speed records ever made by a spaceship and it will go to a place where no other spaceship is before, only about 4 million miles from the surface of the Sun, and it's all a bit closer so we can go over what's called the Corona, the outer atmosphere of the Sun.

Scientists and the general public are largely ignored on Venus as an object of investigation

"Venus has been neglected by us for a while. We had a spaceship there called Magellan in the early '90s, which mapped the planet for the first time, and [what’s] is so weird that we have Venus here, one of our next planets down to Earth, and we did not even know how Surface of Venus looked until 1990.

"There were no Venus bullets before, so when I grew up as a child we had the globe and maybe a little Mars, but that's about it, and the moon."

"A few years ago we had a spacecraft The European Space Agency, Venus Express, has been orbiting the planet for a number of years, and recently crashed into the planet to end its mission. "

What we know about Venus and how inhospitable a planet is

" It is a mysterious planet because it is covered in clouds so that we can not see through the clouds from ground telescopes. You really need to be around to check it out. Now it's often called our sister planet, and I jokingly add that it's our twisted sister planet, because it's not really a pleasant place. This is probably the least hospitable place for us to visit.

"[It’s] 850 to 900 degrees on the planet, and there are three ways to die fast on Venus: one is, you will melt. Second, you will be shattered by the atmosphere that depresses you – 92 the earth's atmosphere right there – and then three, when it starts to rain, it does not rain water, it's raining sulfuric acid.

"The atmosphere of Venus is so incredibly dense and dense, and it's mostly CO2 it acts like this driving greenhouse gas.

"It's a fascinating world, because on Earth we have very different temperatures … but on Venus the temperature is the same every day on the whole planet." Night, day, equator, that does not matter – it is 860 degrees. "

About the potential of Venus to have a past in which it resembled Earth, and the peculiarities of the planet

" We're just kind of scratching the surface here, but it seems that there is much evidence that Venus has a very different past, that the atmosphere was not so strong at that time that even liquid water could have been on the surface

"When we look at the surface of Venus, there is all of this, this volcanic evidence of volcanoes and lava pools and such things, and so on this surface, Venus has changed a bit, and we're not sure if that's caused the greenhouse effect or if it's was much longer. But for the moment it looks like Venus has been a more hospitable place in the past.

"Of course, it could have been a bit more like the Earth, you know, the same size, not much closer to the Sun than we could have had some similarities, but there are other weird things about Venus. It's turning backwards in comparison to us, it's also spinning so slowly that its day is longer than its year, now the calendars on Venus are going crazy … It's going so slow that it takes 243 days to to turn once, so it's the day, but it takes 225 days around the sun, so that's the year. "

Why does Mars get more attention than Venus

" I think I like a beautiful planet, on Venus, it's not that we did not try – that's for sure We sent spacecraft to Venus after spacecraft The Soviet Union sent many of these spacecraft and lander, and they simply failed and failed and landed and fell, and the Americans sent things and they crashed.

"The longest lasting spaceship on Venus, I think, took about two hours before it basically melted into a pile of Goop … It's not a place that may hold our future, but there are some visionaries who think, "Well, maybe we can establish something in the cloud tops that if you are at a higher altitude, the temperature and pressure of the earth could be more similar." But I think you're right, I think the future is Mars, and especially because of this idea, NASA wants to follow the water – any place where water is found in the solar system is the place we really want to highlight. "

On the Mystical Qualities of Venus [19659025] "Oh, I love to see Venus in the night sky, it's the brightest starlike object, the brightest planet up there, and right now it's in the evening sky for the next month or so, you'll see it every night after the sun underweight body It's like this suspiciously bright light, it's almost like a UFO approaching you.

"The ancients, when they saw this, were completely confused, so basically it became the goddess because it was so bright, now it is the evening star that is visible after dark."

Copyright NPR 2018.

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