Sunday, October 11, 2009
This is a bit of welcome news from a few days ago on new Russian plans to return to Venus (although what's up with the word plot instead of plan in the title?), a remarkably simple destination for unmanned probes. Though I'm not all that excited about the idea of sending a lander to the surface considering it would only last a day, it does mention sending a so-called vetrolet (a wind-flyer or solar flyer) that would stay aloft in the area around 45-50 km above the surface where the atmospheric pressure and temperature are ideal, and pretty much the same as that on Earth. Since this region has only been explored twice with short-term balloons in the 1980s and also given the fact that a craft there can stay aloft indefinitely compared with a single day for a lander, this is the proposal that should be given the most preference. We also have never been able to confirm whether or not there is microscopic life present in that part of the atmosphere, and given the intense speculation over whether it exists in other parts of the Solar System I've always found it odd that the area closest to us where it could also exist is largely ignored in spite of the ease of exploration.