NASA announced two new exploration missions of Venus, the hottest planet in the solar system, in an attempt to better understand why it became a hellish place as its neighbor, Earth, became habitable.
These two missions, named Davinci + and Veritas, should depart "in the period 2028-2030," the US Space Agency said in a statement.
"They will allow the scientific community to study a planet we have not been to in over 30 years," said NASA's new administrator, Bill Nelson, in an annual address to space agency staff.
“There is Mercury, the planet closest to the Sun, which has no atmosphere. Then there is Venus, with an incredibly dense atmosphere. And then there is the Earth, with a habitable atmosphere ”, he listed.
"We hope these missions help us better understand how the Earth evolved and why it is currently habitable, when other (planets) are not."
Davinci + will have to measure the composition of Venus's atmosphere and determine if it ever had an ocean.
"The mission consists of a sphere that will plunge into the thick atmosphere of the planet, making precise measurements of noble gases and other elements," explained NASA.
Veritas, meanwhile, will study the geological history of the planet, putting itself in orbit around it.
The mission "will track the reliefs on almost the entire surface of the planet to create a 3D reconstruction of the topography and confirm whether processes such as tectonics or volcanism continue to occur there," according to NASA.
Veritas will also need to determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.
Nelson also confirmed that Artemis 1, the first mission of the United States' moon return program, will launch "later this year." / AFP