An expert says Venus should be the focal point of the first crewed mission to another planet, not Mars, according to The Guardian.
In a report from the International Astronautical Congress in Paris last week, experts posited that a crewed mission to the lead-melting surface and acid cloud-ridden planet of Venus, was a more doable mission than Mars after citing the planet's proximity to Earth.
"Venus gets a bad rap because it's got such a difficult surface environment," Noam Izenberg of Johns Hopkins University said.
"The current NASA paradigm is moon to Mars. We're trying to make the case for Venus as an additional target on that pathway."
Izenberg, who works at the university's applied physics laboratory, says there are practical arguments for including Venus in a flyby mission.
Despite the planet being in the "wrong" direction, Izenberg believes that by performing a slingshot maneuver, a crew could shoot around Venus and decrease the travel time and fuel needed to reach the red planet. The physics professor pointed out that this would make Venus a natural pathway toward Mars.
"You'd be learning about how people work in deep space, without committing yourself to a full Mars mission," he added. "And it's not just going out into the middle of nowhere — it would have a bit of cachet as you'd be visiting another planet for the first time.
"We need to understand how we can get out of the cradle and move into the universe."
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