A group of scientists is now calling for NASA and other space agencies to send a manned mission to Venus before sending one to Mars. NASA has shared plans to send humans to Mars in 2030, but some scientists believe that stopping by Earth’s other neighboring planet first would be a better idea.
The proposal was first brought forward at the International Astronautical Congress of 2022. In the original proposal, Noam Izenberg, co-chair of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group at John Hopkins University, advocated for a fly-by of Earth’s neighboring planet. Izenberg says that a manned mission to Venus should take priority over visiting Mars.
Izenberg and others say that Venus – often referred to as Earth’s twin – is almost completely unexplored. There’s good reason for this, especially considering that the surface temperature of Venus reaches nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit on a standard basis. With the exploration of Mars and James Webb’s observations picking up, Izenberg and his colleagues are pushing for a Venus mission more than ever.
The authors argued that a manned mission to Venus should take precedence because it is the “most Earth-like and Earth-relevant world we will ever get to explore up close.” Additionally, they say Venus is an “endless wonderland” made up of vistas a beguiling formation. Whether or not NASA and other space agencies will listen to these calls is another matter.
NASA has put a lot of money towards exploring Mars and has made a big deal of the Artemis missions, which are set to help humans travel to the Moon and then onward to Mars and other places in the future. With so much preparation already put in, and so many missions already happening on Mars, transitioning to a manned mission to Venus instead might be tough.
Of course, as the authors have argued before, there isn’t any reason that a fly-by manned mission of Venus isn’t possible. That would, technically, allow scientists to study two planets closely in the same mission.