A rather complete-looking Wikipedia List of solar system probes enumerates only a few proposed future missions to Venus: Future Venus Missions

Reading popular science magazines suggests that it would make sense to go first to Venus rather than to Mars with humans, but wouldn't that require precursor missions?

More importantly: Doesn't Venus' atmosphere and its dynamics alone justify another orbiter mission, so to say as Venus weather satellite?
Also: Studying a planet with atmosphere seems very interesting to me, and Venus is easier to reach than Jupiter.

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to consider moving this question to the Space Exploration SE, as this is more related to their subject area. $\endgroup$
    – antispinwards
    Dec 10, 2020 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ @antispinwards It crossed my mind to do that, but as I tried to highlight, I am curious about scientific arguments why the physics of Venus might be considered less interesting than the one of e.g. Mars. This is IMHO not so much about exploration, but more about physics. $\endgroup$
    – B--rian
    Dec 10, 2020 at 11:48
  • $\begingroup$ Also... put that list into perspective with probes sent to any other. Thus Venus doesn't strike me as particularily neglected. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Lot of politics/money involved. If you look at NASA SMD Programs, Mars Exploration is a separate program with its own funding (Mars Sample Return is a whole separate program now like JWST which reports directly to the Assoc. Admin, so MSR is on a level with the rest of the divisions). Venus missions are competing in Discovery and New Frontiers with every other destination in the Sol Sys. Look at the VEXAG page, esp. the 'Venus Bridge Study Report' for outline of path forward & mission summary (last slide) $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2020 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ Different but related question: Was there any proposal or study for a balloon in the Venus atmosphere? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Dec 10, 2020 at 21:50

2 Answers 2


There's a lot in here, but let me get the major things.

  1. Landing on Venus is pretty much impossible for humans with current technology. Mars is much easier, we can do that, Venus would be extraordinarily difficult, to say the least.
  2. There are at least 4 missions with some US backing that are proposed and under active funding.

The reason why there isn't more interest is complex, to say the least, but generally include the following:

  1. Venus is very challenging to see the surface.
  2. It is really hard to land on the planet and have something work for an extended period of time
  3. Until recently Venus has been considered a boring planet, no life, and studied about as much as we could.

Venus is starting to attract more attention, research to seeing it better, having flying spacecraft, and has more potential for life, which has caused an increase in interest recently. But it won't be a target for humans, except for a flyby, anytime soon.

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    $\begingroup$ I just read about possible elements of biochemistry on Venus. No water, too hot for carbon-based life. But CO2 is a supercritical fluid on the surface, and at those temperatures and pressures it seems nitrogen can form interesting polymers. So the authors envisioned nitrogen-based life in a SC CO2 medium, and now I want more missions to the surface. $\endgroup$
    – Greg
    Dec 11, 2020 at 21:41

EnVision is a proposed orbiter mission aiming at determining the level and nature of the geological activity and the sequence of events that generated the surface features of Venus, assessing whether Venus once had oceans (and was thus perhaps hospitable for life) and understanding the geodynamics framework that controls the release of internal heat over Venus’ history. EnVision will use a number of different techniques to search for active geological processes, measure changes in surface temperature associated with active volcanism, characterise regional and local geological features, determine crustal support mechanisms and constrain mantle and core properties.

The M-class mission would be launched on an Ariane 6.2 in 2032, arriving at Venus after a five month cruise, to perform 4 years of measurements with 5 cutting-edge instruments : an S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (VenSAR), a Subsurface Radar Sounder (SRS) and VenSpec, a suite of three spectrometers and spectro-imagers : VenSpec-M (Infrared Imager), VenSpec-H (IR spectrometer), and VenSpec-U (UV spectrometer). Envision will also characterise the gravity field of Venus thanks to a Radio Science Experiment. The mission is currently in its concept study phase for a selection expected in 2021. EnVision would be an ESA mission, with a significant contribution and potential sharing of responsibilities with NASA currently under scientific, technical and programmatic assessment. https://envisionvenus.eu/envision/


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