Venus hotter than ever: 3rd new robotic explorer on horizon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Venus is hotter than ever, with a third new robotic explorer on the horizon.

A week after NASA announced two new missions to our closest neighbor, the European Space Agency said Thursday it will launch a Venus-orbiting spacecraft in the early 2030s. Named EnVision, the orbiter will attempt to explain why Venus is so “wildly different” from Earth, even though the two planets are similar in size and composition.

NASA will provide EnVision’s radar.

NASA’s own pair of upcoming missions to our solar system’s hottest planet — called DaVinci Plus and Veritas — will be the first for the U.S. in more than 30 years. They’ll blast off sometime around 2028 to 2030.

“It’s a Venus hat trick!” tweeted NASA’s top science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen.

The Europeans have visited more recently, with their Venus Express in action around the hothouse planet until 2014. Japan has had an orbiter around Venus since 2015 to study the climate.

It’s a forbidding place: the thick carbon-dioxide atmosphere is home to sulfuric acid clouds.

“A new era in the exploration of our closest, yet wildly different, solar system neighbour awaits us,” the European Space Agency’s science director, Gunther Hasinger, said in a statement.

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