Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech.
By Ian Whittaker, Nottingham Trent University
For decades, the exploration of our solar system left one of our neighboring planets, Venus, largely unexplored. Now, things are about to change.
In the latest announcement from NASA’s Discovery Program, two missions have been given the go-ahead – and they’re both bound for Venus. The two ambitious missions will launch between 2028 and 2030.
This marks a considerable change in direction for NASA’s planetary science division, which hasn’t sent a mission to the planet since 1990. It’s exciting news for space scientists like me.
Venus is a hostile world. Its atmosphere contains sulphuric acid and the surface temperatures is hot enough to melt lead. But it has not always been this way. It is thought Venus started out very similar to the Earth. So what happened?
While on Earth, carbon is mainly trapped in rocks, on Venus it has escaped into the atmosphere ...