Venus, that beloved little acid ball of mine, may well get a return visit in the near future, courtesy of Russian space research institute, IKI. This makes me very happy!
Funnily enough, more man made craft have visited Venus than any other planet, with probes being launched in every single launch window between 1962 and 1985! By far the most industrious exploration of Venus in the early days was by the Soviet Union. The original Venera probes are, to date, the only vehicles to have landed on Venus and sent back data of any kind (including a handful of tantalising images!). Most recently it seems, a collaboration between Russian and European scientists is set to follow in those early footsteps.
Venera-D (Венера-Д) is the latest proposed mission to Venus, and if everything goes according to plan, it should launch sometime in 2016. Based on the same designs the Soviet Union used, but with newly developed and updated technology, the first probe is set to survey Venus and seek out appropriate landing sites. The ultimate goal is to land another probe on the surface of Earth’s evil twin and beat the previous survival record of roughly 110 minutes in the planet’s hostile environment.
Maybe we will tame our nearest neighbour someday, after all…