Voyage to Venus — A Valentine from MHC

Venus, the planet, is known for its impenetrable atmosphere and punishing surface conditions.

In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty and fertility.

In planetary terms, Venus is earth’s “evil twin”— closer to the sun, shrouded in an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, roiling with clouds of sulfuric acid and temperatures hot enough to melt lead.

In both views, there is one overarching similarity: Venus is a thing of mystery.

Recently, Mount Holyoke College’s chair of astronomyDarby Dyar, spoke to Science News about the prospect of studying the planet.

Dyar, who has been recognized for her contributions to the field with the prestigious G. K. Gilbert Award, is known for her research and analysis of Mars. Now she has set her sights on a mission to the impenetrable planet, despite the challenges that such a trip would entail — from landing on the surface that is impossible to discern under most conditions, to the metal-melting temperatures that any lander would then have to survive.

“Everybody knows about the high pressures and temperatures on Venus, so people think we don’t have the technology to survive that,” said Dyar, who is the Kennedy-Schelkunoff Professor of Astronomy, in the article. “The answer is that we do.”

Explore your universe. Learn more.