NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has cosmically grand plans for the agency, including a trip to Venus, an advanced look at the Earth using 3D technology and landing humans on Mars.
Speaking at his first “State of NASA” address Wednesday afternoon, the former Florida senator announced the groundbreaking missions, sending the space community buzzing.
The big news of the day surrounded dual missions to Earth’s “twin” Venus, named VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy) and DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry and Imaging).
The Discovery Program ventures will map and measure aspects of Venus to understand the planet’s history.
NASA AIMS FOR 2 NEW MISSIONS TO VENUS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ‘LOST HABITABLE’ WORLD
While DAVINCI+ will study the planet’s atmosphere, which could shed light on whether Venus once had an ocean, VERITAS will focus on the surface in the hopes of learning “why it developed so differently than Earth.”
Magellan, the last U.S. mission to Venus, ended in 1994 after the imaging spacecraft was commanded to plunge into the toxic atmosphere.
Speaking with Fox News on Thursday, Nelson said NASA will return there to better understand why Venus has a “very thick, foreboding, unforgiving atmosphere.”
“And so, what is it about the atmosphere of Venus that was created that way and what secrets are hidden underneath? And why is it so prohibitive that it will even melt lead at the surface? And these are the secrets. Since we haven’t been to Venus in 30 years, we want to unlock those secrets and try to understand the origin of the Earth and our habitable Earth and atmosphere.”