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NASA announced on Wednesday that it would send to Venus in 2026 two missions, Da Vinci and Veritas, in order to continue the exploration of this planet, where the space agency has not been in the last 30 years.
“These two sister missions aim to discover why Venus became a hellish world and offer the community the opportunity to investigate a planet we haven’t been to in 30 years,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a speech.
Nelson explained that the Da Vinci mission will investigate the planet’s atmosphere in depth, while Veritas will focus on the topography of Venus.
Specifically, one of Da Vinci’s scientific objectives will be, according to NASA, to understand the origin of Venus’ atmosphere, how it has evolved, and how and why it is different from the atmospheres of Earth and Mars.
In addition, this mission aims to provide details about the tectonic and volcanic history of the planet and to understand the history of Venus’ water.
On the other hand, the Veritas mission will orbit Venus and probe through the planet’s dark clouds using a “powerful” state-of-the-art radar system to create global 3D maps and an infrared spectrometer to find out what the surface is made of.
It will also measure the planet’s gravitational field to determine the structure of Venus’ interior with the goal of providing a more complete picture of the planet’s past and present geological processes, from its core to its surface.
Da Vinci and Veritas are part of NASA’s Discovery program, which aims to give scientists the opportunity to develop planetary missions that delve deeper into the mysteries of the solar system.
The last mission to study the surface of Venus dates back to 1989, when NASA sent the Magellan spacecraft to study the planet’s geology, although the technology at the time “could not provide certainty about the origin of many of the surface features,” according to the JPL-NASA team.
According to the space agency, Venus is a planet similar to Earth in size, mass and composition, but its dense carbon atmosphere causes a surface temperature of more than 480 degrees Celsius (900 Fahrenheit).