Nasa announces two new robotic missions to Venus
NASA is returning to sizzling Venus, our closest yet perhaps most overlooked neighbor, after decades of exploring other worlds. The space agency’s new administrator, Bill Nelson, announced two new robotic missions to the solar system’s hottest planet, during his first major address to employees.
The missions, which have each been awarded $500m (£352m) in funding, are due to launch between 2028 and 2030. Bill Nelson said the missions would offer the “chance to investigate a planet we haven’t been to in more than 30 years”.
“These two sister missions both aim to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world, capable of melting lead at the surface,” Mr Nelson said. Venus is the second planet from the sun and the hottest planet in the solar system with a surface temperature of 500C – high enough to melt lead.
The U.S. and the former Soviet Union sent multiple spacecraft to Venus in the early days of space exploration. NASA’s Mariner 2 performed the first successful flyby in 1962, and the Soviets’ Venera 7 made the first successful landing in 1970. In 1989, NASA used a space shuttle to send its Magellan spacecraft into orbit around Venus.