Russia claims 'Venus is a Russian planet' after scientists find that microbial life may exist on Earth's twin

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said that the Soviet Union was 'the first and only one' to land a spacecraft on Venus, so they shouldn't be lagging behind in discovering more about the 'Russian planet'


                            Russia claims 'Venus is a Russian planet' after scientists find that microbial life may exist on Earth's twin
(NASA/JPL)

Russia thinks that Venus is a "Russian Planet". This comes following a discovery, which has raised the hopes of finding extraterrestrial microbial life on our neighboring planet, which is often called the Earth's twin. "We think that Venus is a Russian planet, so we shouldn't lag behind," Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, a former deputy prime minister, said. The country is planning to send a spacecraft to Venus. "Resuming Venus exploration is on our agenda," he told reporters at the HeliRussia 2020 exhibition, an international expo of the helicopter industry in Moscow.

Rogozin said that the Soviet Union was "the first and the only one" to land a spacecraft on Venus. Within an hour its touch down, the probe stopped functioning, thanks to the scorching temperatures (465 degrees Celsius). This was in December 1970. Cut to the present, Russia and the US are jointly working on a mission to Venus called the Venera-D. "The highlight of the future mission would be a longer survival of the lander on the stove-hot surface of Venus, comparing to a roughly hour-long lifespan of previous Soviet spacecraft," reads a statement from the RussianSpaceWeb.com.

(NASA/Lunar and Planetary Institute)

Venus and Earth are called twins due to their similar size, mass, density, composition and gravity. It is the hottest planet in our solar system despite being the second from the Sun. This is because of high levels of greenhouse gases that trap heat -- a process that is occurring on Earth as well.

Despite their similarities, Earth has conditions ripe for life, while Venus is a hot furnace. Scientists want to study the scorching hot planet to see if it is similar to Earth and to gain insights on our planet's past and future. "Venus has lessons on climate evolution for Earth that we should pay attention to," Bob Grimm, the director of the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute and chair of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group, told The Atlantic.

Russia pulled off a soft landing in the late 1900s. "Between 1967-1984, Venusian studies carried out in Russia were at the forefront of international research into this planet. Since then, Russia has still preserved its unique expertise in designing and developing landing crafts for Venus and continues to define scientific tasks for those crafts," European Space Agency said on its website. The US has also sent missions to Venus: in the 1990s NASA's Magellan entered the orbit. It mapped the surface and found that 85% of it is covered with volcanic flows.

In a Magellan image dubbed the "Crater Farm" we see the curious layering of volcanic activity and impact craters. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

But reaching Venus is not easy. The high temperatures and pressure on the planet could render robotic rovers useless in hours -- one of the reasons why Venus has not received enough attention. But a recent discovery brought it back to the limelight: phosphine gas.

On Earth, the gas is produced by microbes residing in oxygen-free environments, raising the possibility that something must be making the gas on Venus. “If this planet is active and is producing phosphine, and there is something that’s making it in the Venus atmosphere, then by God almighty, forget this Mars nonsense,” Paul Byrne, a planetary scientist at North Carolina State University, told The New York Times. “We need a lander, an orbiter, we need a program.”

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