Venus is about to get three major missions in one decade

"This is just an incredible moment."
Loukia Papadopoulos
View of planet Venus from space.buradaki/iStock

Venus has been called "Earth's evil sister" and many have suggested we terraform the fiery planet into our new home but there is still a lot we do not know about it. This is because only one dedicated spacecraft is currently studying Venus and NASA's last robotic visitor mission to the planet, called the Magellan mission, ended all the way back in 1994.

This will soon change though as both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have now announced new missions to study the planet, according to Space.com. The announcements were made in June of 2021 but Venus specialists have just started to celebrate them at this year's Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) calling the timeframe of the missions "the decade of Venus."

Three major missions

"I would like to just take a moment to acknowledge how fantastic it is that we've actually moved now from talking about what proposed Venus missions could do to actually talking about what our missions will do at Venus," Jörn Helbert, a planetary scientist at the German space agency Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, said during an LPSC session this last Tuesday. "This is just an incredible moment."

The NASA missions will be called VERITAS and DAVINCI, while ESA's will be called EnVision. VERITAS will hopefully launch in 2027 and will aim to give researchers the first glimpse of Venus' surface since the end of the Magellan mission. The mission will also seek to collect data about rock composition, geologic activity, and the planet's core.

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VERITAS will also host the Venus Emissivity Mapper which will be complemented by a near-twin fly on EnVision. This mission is targeting launch in the early 2030s. Meanwhile, DAVINCI, which is targeting launch in 2030, will focus on Venus' atmosphere and is composed of a main spacecraft and an atmospheric probe.

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