US space agency NASA on Wednesday announced two new missions to study Venus – DaVinci+ and Veritas – which will mark the first visits to the planet in over 30 years.
DaVinci+ is set to analyze the planet’s atmosphere while Veritas will map its surface, NASA said.
The two missions to Earth’s nearest planetary neighbour are expected to launch around 2028-2030 as part of NASA’s Discovery programme. The agency is awarding some 500 million dollars per mission for development.
“The missions aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours – and may have been the first habitable world in the solar system, complete with an ocean and Earth-like climate,” NASA said in a release.
“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” NASA’s associate administrator for science Thomas Zurbuchen said.
“Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse,” Zurbuchen added.
“Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets and habitability in our own solar system, but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting and emerging area of research for NASA.”