Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images
It’s Venus’ time to shine.
On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the space agency will send two missions to the planet: One to study its atmosphere and another to map its topography, The Washington Post reports. It’s been more than 30 years since NASA sent a probe to Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system — the Magellan spacecraft orbited Venus for four years starting in 1989, before dropping into the atmosphere and burning up.
The two missions, dubbed DAVINCI Plus and VERITAS, are set to launch between 2028 and 2030. DAVINCI Plus involves sending a probe into Venus’ atmosphere, so scientists can determine why it is a “hothouse” and whether the planet ever had an ocean. VERITAS calls for using radar to chart Venus’ elevations and study rock types. Both missions will study “how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface,” Nelson said, adding, “We hope these missions will further our understanding of how Earth evolved and why it’s habitable when others in our solar system are not.”
NASA scientist Tom Wagner told the Post it is “astounding how little we know about Venus, but the combined results of these missions will tell us about the planet from the clouds in its sky through the volcanoes in its surface all the way down to its very core. It will be as if we rediscovered the planet.”