PDA

View Full Version : Russia/Venus Connection



clint_dreamer
2008-Jul-23, 04:37 PM
Starting in 1961 Russia was lauching probes fast and furiously towards Venus. This continued into the early 80's and while a lot of good scientific data was returned, a lot of probes failed for various reasons too. To me it seems like Russia put all their eggs into one basket with so many probes going to just one body in the Solar System. I know they have explored elsewhere, however there was definitely something drawing them back to Venus so many times. My question is; was Russia trying to put together a manned mission to Venus until they realized conditions there wouldn't allow it, or where they just that facinated with the planet? Were they sensing that they were going to lose the moon race and decided to try and do the American's one better by venturing to another planet? If anyone has any theories I'd love to hear because I have several; from perfectly normal explainations to geez, whats he been smoking.

Thanks

Swift
2008-Jul-23, 05:13 PM
Hi Clint, welcome to BAUT.

I don't know, but I don't think they were planning a manned mission. I also don't think they were putting all there eggs in one basket, the Russians also sent probes to the Moon and Mars (this wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robotic_spacecraft) has a good list of unmanned probes by destination).

They did have great success with their Venus probes and I suspect they just continued to build on those initial successes. Some of that might have been one-up-manship on the Americans; this is something that we can do that you can't.

By the way, this is a wonderful website (http://www.mentallandscape.com/V_Venus.htm) on the history of the Russian's Venus program.

clint_dreamer
2008-Jul-23, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the reply and link Swift. It was just something that I found interesting when I was reading a lengthy article on Venus last week.

The bottom link lists 28 probes launched just to Venus by Russia between 1961 and 1984. That is unbelievable. Great website.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jul-23, 05:37 PM
The pictures returned from Venus are something to behold. I guess it never really hit me just what another planet was until I saw those pictures in school. I mean I *knew* its just different to see a picture from a "Here we are on Venus" line of postcards.

goatboy
2008-Jul-23, 06:34 PM
Russian tenacity was clearly evident with the Venera program. They kept hitting that damn nail until it was in. Unbelievable effort, and plenty of scientific data generated as well.

I'll go out on a limb here and say the "failed" Venera probes were every bit as successful as the ... er successful ones. Thomas Edison quipped similarly about the "success" of finding a wrong way to do something.

Swift
2008-Jul-24, 05:50 PM
Some wild speculation by me..... I have known and worked with a few Russian scientists. There were a couple of stengths of Soviet science. One was their tenacity, as goatboy said. What they lacked in technology, they made up for in shear brains and brawn. If they couldn't get a microchip, they'd design it out of vacuum tubes. That may have actually helped their Venus program, where robustness (simple and brawny) are probably big advantages.

Second, in the area I worked in (crystal growth), pressure vessels and vacuum chambers are important technologies, and the Soviets were very good at both of them. I don't know if this crossed over to their space program, but such expertise could have been helpful in the Venus program.

Nicolas
2008-Jul-24, 09:21 PM
About a manned Venus mission: maybe they dreamed about it, initially.

remember, until right before the start of the space age, many people believed that Venus was like an old, jungle earth with the thick atmosphere protecting it from the sun.

Now, for a manned mission you need to practice and learn with unmanned probes first. These probes bring back data on Venus. The more you know about Venus, the less you want to go there manned. It's hell.

Even if the environment would be remotely friendly, it would be a hard mission. Venus is an inner planet making it easy to get there, but hard to stop there. And hard to launch back to earth (an outer planet for Venus) from there.

A reason to keep sending probes to Venus is that it's still possible there's life there. The things that can live near the volcanic vents in our ocean wouldn't do too bad on Venus, in an adapted version. So it's possible. But sending a probe there that lives long enough to do some science searching for life, will be hard. The environment is so harsh it eats away the metal from your probe quite fast. Pressure and temperature are high, making it not too easy to design a craft with many active functions.

JonClarke
2008-Jul-24, 10:35 PM
Second, in the area I worked in (crystal growth), pressure vessels and vacuum chambers are important technologies, and the Soviets were very good at both of them. I don't know if this crossed over to their space program, but such expertise could have been helpful in the Venus program.

According to the BBC program The Planets screened some 10 years ago they built a massive pressure cooker to simulate Cyrethian conditions and subjective entire prototypes to destructive testing in it.

Their achievements on Venus were absolutely amazing.

Jon

Grashtel
2008-Jul-25, 03:03 AM
A reason to keep sending probes to Venus is that it's still possible there's life there. The things that can live near the volcanic vents in our ocean wouldn't do too bad on Venus, in an adapted version. So it's possible. But sending a probe there that lives long enough to do some science searching for life, will be hard. The environment is so harsh it eats away the metal from your probe quite fast. Pressure and temperature are high, making it not too easy to design a craft with many active functions.
Its extremely unlikely that there is any life on Venus's surface, the temperatures are just too extreme (460oC, well above the melting point of lead) for anything resembling terrestrial life, and quite possibly anything carbon based. The clouds are a different matter, the environment there is much nicer and I believe that there is even possible evidence for life (IIRC they reflect less UV than they should).