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The Soviet Obsession With Venus Revealed

May 16, 2024
Did you know that it is possible to land on Venus without a parachute or even a rocket engine? This is a unique feature of the planet discovered by the Soviet Union 5 decades ago and was the result of a trial and error process that finally


the truth about the most interesting location in our solar system this is what the Soviets found when they landed on Venus and why they never returned Venera is the Russian word for the planet Venus is also a series of 16 missions that sought to understand, discover and map the Earth's nearest neighbor dating from 1961 and extending until 1985, the Venera project was a series of space probes and satellites sent to Venus to study the planet and gather more information apparently this was done for science, but we cannot ignore the political impact. implications one of the many ambitious plays by the USSR to assert itself as a more capable player during the space race, while Mars tends to get all the attention in the 21st century, at a time when there was actually much more interest in studying Venus , why is it That's how well we can observe the surface of Mars through high-powered telescopes on Earth, so we had a pretty good idea that there wasn't much going on there, apart from a minority of fringe theories about channels on Mars that was generally accepted.
the soviet obsession with venus revealed
It may be a dead planet, but Venus, on the other hand, presents a centuries-old mystery. All we can see from Earth is an impenetrable, unbreakable layer of thick clouds. And what's underneath? If Venus has clouds then it has a dense atmosphere unlike Mars which means there could be life on Venus, the closer proximity to the sun combined with the insulating layer of clouds would indicate it must be hot on Venus, a tropical climate spanning an entire globe covered in dense tropical forests that support all nature of insects and alien reptiles like a prehistoric. On Earth, this was more plausible than the Martian theory, but it was still not widely considered by the scientific community at the time.
the soviet obsession with venus revealed

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the soviet obsession with venus revealed...

The famous astronomer Carl Sagen had already popularized the notion that Venus' uninterrupted cloud cover was indicative of a greenhouse effect that had exploded. out of control and overheated the planet, which meant that the world below the clouds would be nothing more than a burning hell, but there was only one way to find out, because with all the early milestones of the space race, the Soviet Union was the first to achieve it. An attempt to study Venus up close was in 1961 the Soviets built two probes Venea 1 and Venea 2 This was a common procedure in the first decades of space exploration to launch missions in pairs because there was still a very high probability that one of them would go To fail, you really have to appreciate the ambition of these primitive interplanetary flights with nothing more than an adding machine to guide them.
the soviet obsession with venus revealed
Russian engineers strapped a rocket motor to their probe, loaded it atop a ballistic missile called the r seven, and configured it. heading to Venus, so they let it explode and hoped for the best. The good news is that both probes were able to fly within 100,000 km of Venus. The bad news is that both probes experienced a complete system failure before reaching their destination and therefore there is no usable data. Then, in 1962, the Americans achieved what the Soviets had failed to do: their Mariner 2 probe flew within 35,000 km of Venus and completed the first close-up observation of another planet during a 42-minute scan of Venus.
the soviet obsession with venus revealed
Mariner 2 collected significant data on the Venutian atmosphere and surface on both the night and day sides, the findings confirmed Sagan's theory of the greenhouse effect. Mariner 2's microwave radiometer indicated temperatures as high as 49° F or 237° C on the dayside. Mariner 2 also found that there was a dense cloud cover that extended 56 to 80 km above the surface. Based on this data, NASA largely decided to postpone the exploration of Venus in the short term, considering it a totally inhospitable environment both for man as for machine, so they shifted focus to the Moon and Mars, but the Soviets were less convinced, redoubled their efforts and prepared the second wave of Venea probes.
They still had no idea how bad things were about to get. It is 1966 and the Soviets have built a larger and stronger spacecraft for Venea 3 and 4. It is now weighing in at over 2000 pounds equipped with a variety of instruments such as a barometer, radar, altimeter, gas analyzers, thermometers. and a detachable capsule that would serve as a descent module. The idea was for the descent module to parachute through the Venutian atmosphere and take readings on the temperature of the composition. and pressure to the surface, things actually got a little complicated. Venera 3 experienced another system failure along the way, but the Soviet target was certain, so the probes managed to hit Venus like a bullet and crash directly into the surface, becoming the first man-made object to ever hit Venus. crashed into another planet the USSR actually scored a hat trick by impacting bodies close to Earth they were the first to crash on the Moon Venus and Mars there is a lesson there probably if you are going to fail make it historically correct, coming 4 in 1967 was the most close to a success story.
The probe reached Venus with all systems in operation and dropped the capsule into the Venutian atmosphere from here. The descent module successfully deployed its parachutes and slowly descended toward the surface. This was the first spacecraft to collect measurements inside the atmosphere of another planet. The data returned by the probe showed something very interesting. At high altitudes, the atmosphere of Venus is very similar to that of Earth on a warm summer day perfectly hospitable temperature and pressure downright comfortable even, but the further the probe descends, the more extreme the weather becomes, not only increasing the temperature but also the atmospheric pressure.
It gets so bad that after 90 minutes of slow descent, the transmission from the probe shuts down, it is widely believed that the capsule was simply crushed like a beer can by the density of the atmosphere, so now we know to descend to Venus It's like diving into the depths of the ocean, which is a strange concept when you understand that the air could be so dense that it would crush a metal spacecraft with With this new information, the Soviets were almost certain that the Venea 5 and Six remaining would have no chance of reaching the surface, but they launched anyway.
Meanwhile, NASA had launched another flyby mission to Venus with Mariner 5 in 1967, but it would not make contact with the planet, but it did get close enough to confirm what Venera 4 had experienced: that conditions on Venus were of some ways even more extreme than those originally detected in the early 1960s. With that in mind, the Soviets launched Fera 5 and Six consecutively. In January 1969, both probes recorded less than an hour of data each before meeting the same crushing fate as their predecessor, and yet the Soviet Union was undaunted in its efforts; They would simply build even bigger and stronger probes and try again.
For their next round of plating, landing attempts number seven and eight, the Soviets made two very key modifications to one. The descent module was constructed from thicker metal with more insulation from an internal titanium sphere to protect the instruments from heat and padding to soften the blow. of Impact and modification number two was quite clever, the engineers wanted to minimize the amount of time the probe was exposed to the environment, so they placed an additional tether around the parachute lines, this would prevent the parachute from opening completely when the probe fell. through the upper atmosphere, so the tether material was designed to melt at a certain temperature that would allow the parachute to deploy at a lower altitude, although the Venea 7 parachute deployed on August 17, 1970, still It didn't last long, the material somehow broke down or just melted, but either way the lander ended up falling like a rock reaching a terminal velocity of 61 kmph before bouncing off the Venutian surface again according to that broadcast.
Observers on Earth assumed they were still watching. Another failure to reach the surface alive, but that was not the case, even with a broken antenna, the lander was sending information and what it found would confirm scientists' worst fears: the temperature recorded on the surface showed 475° C or approximately 900°. Fahrenheit hot enough to melt lead and too hot for any machine to work reliably and yet the Soviets were somehow undeterred in 1972, they would try all over again with Venera 8; Miraculously, this mission would not face any technical difficulties along the way. The Descent touch module fell gently on the surface of the planet with all its instruments intact and recorded for just under 1 hour, so we now know that the temperature on Venus exceeds 900°, the pressure on the surface is equivalent to 92 times the of the atmosphere on Earth, which is comparable to being 1 km underwater and if that wasn't enough, the lower atmosphere is full of sulfuric acid, which is the material found inside a car battery.
Now you would think that all this confirmed knowledge would eventually deter even the most committed engineers, but the Soviet Union just didn't believe in quitting, I mean, until they literally stopped being a union overnight, the entire wall fell apart. collapsed, but we are not going to go there today, where we are going is back to Venus because Coming 8


one last fact. That was too good to pass up even with the dense cloud cover there is still enough sunlight reaching the surface of Venus to take a picture for Venea 9 the Soviets made a fundamental change in the design of the probe you can see this just by looking at it. look at it there are some crazy things happening here.
The Descent capsule itself has been reinforced once again. We're now tipping the scales at almost 5 metric tons, but the most notable features have to do with a new landing procedure, given everything we now know about Venus that we want to preserve. Our probes are exposed to the environment as little as possible and we also learned that even after accidentally falling and falling hundreds of meters, Vinea 7 still managed to function. So what happens if we intentionally drop the probe? This is what is happening with the two rings at the bottom it is actually the landing gear or crash ring, just a flat circle of metal connected to the main body by a series of shock absorbing legs and at the top is the new Arrow break, this is how we land on Venus without needing a parachute, this thing that looks like a strange hat is all that is really needed to slow the probe down enough for a safe landing.
That's putting Venus' incredibly thick atmosphere to work. It behaves more like water than air. It's very amazing. They also did it technically. use a parachute only to slow the probe in the upper atmosphere, such as to bring it to subsonic speed, but the landing itself was a free fall directly to the ground from 47 km above the surface. Now what's up with those cameras? This is the first. Never taken photograph of Venus was captured on black and white film by Veneer 9 in 1975 and what we are seeing is a field of broken jagged rocks surrounded by a sand-like material.
It's not exactly impressive. The photo is only interesting because it was taken. on Venus, but I still think it's cool. This is the view from veneer 10, an identical lander that arrived just a few days later and now we're looking at flat terrain with hardly any of those chunks of rock, just the smooth top of what once was. probably once an ancient lava flow came 11 and 12 were less eventful missions and could not return any interesting photos due to lens cap failures. This was one of the tricks with Venus: you have to protect the camera on the way down or it will melt prematurely. but then you have to rely on an automated system to reveal the lens which didn't always work. came 13 unfortunate number but very successful mission in the year 1981 this probe returned the first color photograph of the Venutian surface and it is one of my favorites Again, the surface around the lander is just flat Sandy Rock, but you can see only a touch of scenery beyond the probe landed near the edge of a cliff or the top of a hill, you can get a sense of depth that makes everything seem more real. and more aliens at the same time, scenes like this should make every person appreciate Earth a little more, since mostOf the planets and moons in the galaxy probably look like Venus, all the ones we've found anyway, barren, lifeless rocks, anyway, you can see too.
The base of the lander again here and what's the problem with those teeth? They look almost deliberately brutal, but the teeth served an aerodynamic function. Metal teeth were added to the periphery of the impact ring in an effort to reduce the spin and wobble experienced on previous missions. 11 and 12, which could lead to a pretty difficult landing, but that's not all the sheet metal could do. The probe was also equipped with a drill and a surface sample to analyze the Venutian soil and what it found was a very rock-like material that we call hard on Earth, it's essentially solidified volcanic ash, oh and one more thing, Venera 13 was carrying a microphone so we can hear the sounds of Venus, it's essentially just wind noise and the sound of the probe doing its thing, but again, like the photos, there's something very creepy and strange about it, Veneer 14 It was again almost identical.
He found another shot of these smooth rocks that were determined to be very similar to Bass salt, which is a volcanic rock that makes up most of the Earth's ocean floor, and that was it. That was the last time a man-made object reached the surface of Venus. There were some really interesting things done with balloons, but that's another story. What I want to dwell on here is why we never went back. A very obvious reason would be. which is a lot of work and a lot of expense for a relatively small reward, you can send a robot to Mars and it will last for years, while the longest Vander ever made was about 2 hours.
The Venea program came to an end just as the Soviet Union itself was coming to an end. Leadership and priorities changed. Russia went through a difficult time in the 1990s. We are also left with this paradox as our technology becomes more advanced. becomes more fragile in many ways the former Soviet Union was the perfect place to build a machine that would withstand Venus and we may have lost that style of craftsmanship in the pursuit of increasingly cheaper and more efficient manufacturing. I saw an interview on television the other day. with an old NASA engineer and was talking about the Voyager 1 probe, he made the analogy that Voyager's computer was as capable as a pocket calculator from the 1970s, today we can save the computing power of a iPhone in our pocket, but does anyone know?
I really think we could shoot an iPhone into space and keep it running 40 years into the future. Apple's updates alone would make this impossible, but we still have a lot to learn from the past if we really want to push our space exploration forward. in the future

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