Recently NASA has made a sizable donation of $500,000 to the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI), giving it financial support to launch their latest invention LEAVES (Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric Venus Sensors) which could gather critical data about our next-door neighbor, Venus.  

What is LEAVES?  

LEAVES is a comparatively affordable, minimal risk, and out-of-the-box device that will allow scientists to study the planet Venus and gather previously unknown information up close for up to 9 hours.

With a mass of only 130 grams, these small futuristic devices will be released into Venus-like kites powered with high precision and targeted chemical species sensors.  

But why Venus?  

Named after the Roman goddess of beauty, this planet can often be seen from earth glowing in the night sky.

But behind this disguise of beauty lies an inhospitable and harsh atmosphere that has forbidden scientists from learning more about the planet.  

Other than housing Maxwell Montes which is a volcano as large as Mt Everest, this planet has a thick atmosphere of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which traps the sun’s heat making it reach temperatures of up to 880 degrees Celsius. This gives it the label of ‘the hottest,’ despite not being closest to the sun. Rainstorms of sulphuric acid are common and the winds can be faster than certain category 5 hurricanes that exist on earth.  

Additionally, its atmosphere is so thick that any human who would dare to step foot on the planet would get crushed. To put this into context, the atmosphere of Venus can be compared to the pressure felt half a mile deep inside an ocean. 

Earth AND Venus – So Similar yet so different   

The two planets are of comparable size and density as well as have a similar geological structure that is, crust, mantle, and core primarily because it is believed that the two are accreted from similar materials. Scientists even discovered unusual streaks in the planet’s atmosphere which were absorbing Ultraviolet radiation. It is thus believed that microbial life could be present a few kilometers into Venus’ atmosphere.

Scientists believe that about 2 billion years ago, Earth and Venus had a remarkably similar atmosphere, with temperatures and oceans like Earth, enabling the planet to host life even possibly.

The crucial question remains that how exactly did this drastic change in the environment take place. This could help us to understand planetary evolution and decipher the fate of our own home. 


Satchi Sawhney

Hope you enjoy this amalgamation of bizarre thoughts , facts and my opinions.

1 Comment

  • Danish sharma · April 12, 2021 at 11:25


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