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Fri Jun 4, 2021, 07:45 AM

Nasa plans return to Venus with two missions by 2030

Nasa sets aside $1bn for two ventures, which will be first US exploration of the planet since 1989

Richard Luscombe
Wed 2 Jun 2021 18.29 EDT

Nasa is returning to Venus for the first time in more than three decades to gain a better understanding of the history of what scientists believe could have been the first habitable planet in the solar system.

Plans for two separate and ambitious deep space missions to Earth’s nearest neighbour were announced on Wednesday by the head of the US space agency, Bill Nelson. Launches were targeted for a 2028-2030 time frame, he said.

Nasa has set aside $1bn (£700m) in developmental funding for the two ventures, which will be the first US exploration of the planet since 1989. The Magellan spacecraft that managers sent plunging into the oblivion of Venus’s atmosphere in 1994 at the end of its five-year mission provided never-before-seen imagery of the planet’s cratered and volcanic surface that Nasa now seeks to research further.

“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 on its surface all the way down to its very core,” Tom Wagner, lead scientist of Nasa’s discovery program, said.

“It will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”


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