If the last few years have been Mars years, the next few will be (at least in part) Venus years. NASA has announced not one but two exploration missions to the neighboring planet. Although it has hellish weather conditions, there is a chance that there is life in its atmosphere. And that’s what they’re going to look for.
For the first time in more than three decades, NASA will return to Venus. This has been announced by Bill Nelson, NASA’s top representative, in the last few hours. It will do so thanks to two new planetary missions estimated for 2026. DAVINCI+ and VERITAS are the names they will receive.
Venus, in a sense, is the most similar planet to Earth. A similar mass, a similar composition and a similar size make us think that it is a place that can harbor life. However, its atmosphere is another story. The temperature inside the dense atmosphere of Venus makes it a hellish place with more than 400 degrees Celsius.
After numerous missions by the United States and the Soviet Union in previous decades, Venus ended up a bit forgotten as nothing particularly relevant was found. Now it’s time for a comeback, especially after new clues that it might harbor life. The clues? Evidence that the temperature in Venus’ atmosphere might be moderate like on Earth.
Each of the missions has a different target on Venus and a different exploration site. Here is what to expect from both Venus exploration missions:
- DAVINCI+: This is the mission that will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere. To do so, the mission will descend in a capsule into the atmosphere of Venus to collect precise measurements of the noble gases and elements that make up the atmosphere. It will also photograph in high resolution the geological composition of the planet.
- VERITAS: the spaceship will not descend to the surface of Venus, but will instead remain in orbit to photograph and map the entire surface of the planet in 3D. It will allow us to have a geological study of the planet to know its volcanism and topography.
For the moment we will have to wait until 2026 for the missions to be launched, if everything goes according to plan. Months later, it is likely that we will receive some very interesting data about the neighboring planet, as well as high-resolution photographs of the hell of the Solar System.