Manned trips to Mars are ambitions for programs by space agencies and private companies. NASA’s Artemis mission plans to send astronauts to the red planet by 2028. J Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has expressed plans to occupy Martian soil by 2050.
For some scientists, however, before landing on Martian soil, the missions should consider passages through Viruses. In a study published in “pr-print” format, which will still be submitted to peer review in the journal Acta Astronautic, researchers argue that flying over the orbit of Venus can make missions to Mars faster and cheaper.
Led by Noam Izenberg, planetary gelogue at Johns Hopkins University, in the United States, the work points out that there are two possibilities for travel for astronauts to reach the red planet. The first would be a joint mission, in which spacecraft could travel between Earth and Mars while the planets are aligned.
After landing in the Martian environment, however, the crew would have to wait for a new alignment to start their journey back. The problem that this event would take at least a year and a half to happen, as the website informs Space.Com.
“Monte Olimpio” on the surface of Mars. Image: Nasa / Mola Science Team / O. de Goursac, Adrian Lark
The second option, on the other hand, corresponds to what the study calls “opposition mission”. In this case, the spacecraft would pass through Venus to take advantage of the planet’s gravitational force and then adjust the route to Mars. According to the scientists, this would significantly help to reduce the energy demand of the missions, save fuel, free space in spaceships and reduce costs.
Another advantage, say the researchers, refers to the frequency of missions. Trips with a ticket on Vnus could leave Earth every 19 months. Direct missions to Mars would face a shortage of more than two years until the orbits of the red planet and Earth align properly. Opposition missions could still shorten the stay of astronauts on Martian soil, with the possibility of making trips back after a month of arrival.
For scientists, the route proposed in the study would still be useful for exploring viruses and collecting even more accurate information about the planet. “There is science on two planets for much less than the price of two separate manned missions,” Paul Byrne, co-author of the study and planetary gelogue at North Carolina State University, told Space.com.
The authors point out that space probes operated on bases on Earth already collect information about the second planet in the solar system. Flight over orbits of Venus, however, would allow astronauts more possibilities for operating devices located on the surface.
“The crew would be able to control, in real time, probes on the surface and aircraft in the atmosphere, with virtual reality equipment and a joystick,” Kirby Runyon, a planetary geomorphologist at Johns Hopkins University, told Space.