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After Mars, Venus is next in Line for NASA

Mars has been having its moment for the past few years. The planet has piqued Hollywood’s interest, with both the US and China landing rovers on its surface, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is recently announcing that his business plans to launch its next-generation rocket from a base in the Gulf of Mexico in 2022. His gaze is fixed on Mars.

Other planets have been relegated to the background. When was the last time you thought about the Earth, Neptune? Pluto received the worst fate of all, being demoted to a dwarf planet in 2006. However, NASA revealed that it intends to focus greater attention on Venus, the second planet from the sun.

The planet, which is one of the brightest in the night sky, is classified as an “inferno-like world,” yet it could have been the solar system’s first livable world, replete with an ocean and an Earth-like temperature. NASA announced in a statement that the two expeditions to the planet would be part of its Discovery Program, with each mission receiving around $500 million in development funding. The cruises are scheduled to begin at the end of the decade.

One will investigate the planet’s atmosphere, which may reveal whether or nor did it formerly had an ocean. The other mission will study the planet’s surface to figure out why it evolved so differently from Earth.In the early days of space research, the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union dispatched many spacecraft to Venus. In 1962, NASA’s Mariner 2 completed the first successful flyby, and in 1970, the Soviets’ Venera 7 completed the first successful landing. NASA launched its Magellan probe into orbit around Venus in 1989 with the help of a space shuttle.

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