I’ve always been fascinated with Venus, the planet closest to Earth in size that is different in every other respect. It rotates in the opposite direction, not just from Earth but from every planet in the Solar System. A day on Venus is longer than a year – its day is 243 Earth days while its year is only 225. It’s also hot with an average surface temperature of 460 degrees Celsius. (Left, Venus.)
Now, a new piece of Venus’ mysterious puzzle has come to light. The planet’s rotation is slowing down. Its day has gotten 6.5 minutes longer in the last 16 years. The rate of a planet’s rotation varies, but this is a significant change for so short a time. So what exactly is going on with Venus? Check out my full article on Motherboard.
In the mid-1960s, NASA was already looking ahead to what it would do after the Apollo program. Where could the organization send astronauts after the moon that would make use of everything it had learned getting them to our satellite? What emerged was the Apollo Applications Program (AAP), a program designed to give the technologies generated from Apollo direction towards long term objectives in space. AAP goals were varied. They ranged from Earth orbital research, an extended and more permanent lunar exploration program, and manned planetary missions. Within this latter category, Mars was on the table but wasn’t the only target. In 1967, NASA looked at what it would take to send men to Venus (pictured).
Continue reading “NASA’s Manned Mission to Venus”
Venus has always held a certain fascination for sky-gazers. It’s the brightest object aside from the Sun and the Moon and it’s been named for three goddesses of love: the Roman Venus, the Greek Aphrodite, and the Babylonian Ishtar. As naked eye astronomy and myth gave way to scientific observation, Venus took on a different personality. Early Earth-based observations suggested it was a younger world and a tropical paradise, but better technology revealed it was hot and carbon dioxide rich. But there’s no better way to learn about a planet than to visit it. (Left, an artist’s concept of Mariner 2 – the first interplanetary spacecraft.)
In 1967, NASA developed a mission to send men to Venus. But before getting into the proposed manned mission, it’s worth stepping back to look at the state of NASA’s knowledge of Venus and its understanding of the interplanetary space a mission would have to go through to get there. Before this manned mission proposal, NASA had only sent one mission to Venus – Mariner 2. Continue reading “NASA’s First Interplanetary Journey: Venus”
Whenever anyone gets me talking about space and spaceflight, they invariably ask what got me started on ‘all of this space stuff’ in the first place. The short answer is Venus. I became captivated by the planet researching a second grade science project and my interest has continued growing from there. It is a planet, sometimes referred to as Earth’s twin but really more like the Earth turned inside out, that and I can see in the sky! But it’s never been the object that truly captivates me; it’s the hunt to learn about the object. Continue reading “Unraveling Venus”