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NASA Setting Sights on Venus Again

Elon Musk’s ostentatious Tesla monument to the stars, as well as his company’s proposed Doge-1 expedition, may be in the center of space exploration’s viral orbit. Still, Venus is swiftly becoming a new focus of scientific investigation. NASA is working on two new projects that promise to accomplish many more than launch a Roadster into orbit.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the next two missions for the agency’s Discovery Program on June 2. The selection process began in 2019, when NASA issued a Discovery Announcement of Opportunity for a new round of Discovery Program funding, soliciting mission proposals.

Two missions were planned for the solar system’s hottest planet Venus, one for Neptune’s icy moon Triton, and one for the Jovian volcanic moon Io, among the four extremely competitive contenders announced in February 2020. Only two of the four finalists were to receive money. And both would be to Venus, and it turned out.DAVINCI+ (a mission to better map the Venusian surface and subsurface) and VERITAS (a mission to better study Venus’s atmospheric evolution) have been picked as the two missions to launch between 2028 and 2030. They’ll be the first NASA spacecraft to visit our solar system’s second planet in 40 years.

Venus would be the name of Earth’s sister if it had one. Yes, Mars’ days are the same length as Earth’s, and its axis tilt is the same as Earth’s. Yes, all three planets are in the habitable zone of our solar system, with liquid water on their surfaces at one time. However, Earth and Venus are very similar in many ways: They are essentially identical in size, gravity, density, mass, and chemical composition.

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