JUL 07, 2020 10:35 AM PDT

Should We Fly By Venus on the Way to Mars?

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

After landing on the Moon, heading to Mars became the next logical step for space exploration. Some suggest that flying towards Venus is both a faster and cheaper way to get there. 

Noam Izenberg, a planetary geologist at John Hopkins University, and others have drafted a white paper recommending a detour to Venus while on the way to or from Mars. 

To understand why let's look at the two ways to travel between Earth and Mars. The first involves flying a spacecraft between the two planets where their orbits align. This is known as a conjunction mission. After reaching Mars, astronauts would need to wait for the planets to align again before returning to Earth- meaning they would need to spend at least a year and a half on the planet.

The second way is known as an opposition mission. In this case, the spacecraft would make a detour towards Venus to or from Mars, and use its gravitational pull to alter its course. In doing so, astronauts could significantly reduce the amount of energy needed for each trip. This would lead to significant savings on fuel, weight, and of course, cost. 

This kind of mission would also mean that launches between the two planets could happen every 19 months, as opposed to every 26 months. It could also potentially allow astronauts to spend as little as one month on Mars at a time, as opposed to a year and a half via conjunction mission. 

Already, it seems that NASA is planning on employing an opposition mission to Mars. In a report from April, the agency mentions 'two-year Mars class missions', as a future aim. 

Kirby Runyon, a planetary geomorphologist at Johns Hopkins University, and one of the co-authors of the whitepaper, said, "Assuming that this report is talking about normal forms of propulsion, the only way you can get to Mars and back in two years is if you include a Venus flyby."

 

Sources: Space.comARXIV

 

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUL 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
JUL 04, 2021
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
It's been estimated that the universe began about 13.8 billion years ago in a violent explosion known as the Big Bang. R ...
AUG 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
AUG 17, 2021
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
A new study published in Physical Review Letters presents evidence for the creation of matter and antimatter from energy ...
AUG 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Difference Between a Low Mass Star and a Brown Dwarf
AUG 30, 2021
The Difference Between a Low Mass Star and a Brown Dwarf
Researchers have identified five objects sitting on the border between very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. The researc ...
SEP 03, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Virgin Galactic's Core Spaceship is Grounded by the FAA
SEP 03, 2021
Virgin Galactic's Core Spaceship is Grounded by the FAA
Two billionaires took their ambitions to space this summer. It seems one has now been temporarily grounded. The US Feder ...
SEP 23, 2021
Microbiology
Mining Metal From Microbes in Space
SEP 23, 2021
Mining Metal From Microbes in Space
Microbes can be used like little factories to churn out important or valuable chemicals. Now researchers are learning ho ...
OCT 13, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA Plans to Bring Mars Rocks Back to Earth
OCT 13, 2021
NASA Plans to Bring Mars Rocks Back to Earth
In continuing the time-honored tradition of celestial rock collecting, NASA’s Perseverance rover has collected a s ...
Loading Comments...