Skip to main content

NASA announces first Venus missions in more than 30 years

NASA's Return to Venus

NASA has announced plans for two missions to Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor.


The missions, announced by the space agency on Wednesday, June 2, are expected to launch around 2028-2030 and will be the first NASA voyages to Venus in more than 30 years.

The missions will aim to learn more about how Venus, which is a little smaller than Earth and covered permanently in thick clouds, became “an inferno-like world when it has so many other characteristics similar to ours,” NASA said, adding that the planet may even have been the first habitable world in the solar system, “complete with an ocean and Earth-like climate.”

The upcoming missions, named DAVINCI+ and VERITAS, were selected as part of NASA’s Discovery Program, an initiative set up in 1992 that gives scientists and engineers more freedom to design their own space missions for possible selection by the space agency.


DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) will analyze the composition of Venus’ atmosphere in an effort to find out how it came to be and will also attempt to discover if there was ever an ocean on the planet.

“The mission consists of a descent sphere that will plunge through the planet’s thick atmosphere, making precise measurements of noble gases and other elements to understand why Venus’ atmosphere is a runaway hothouse compared the Earth’s,” NASA said.

DAVINCI+ will be the first U.S.-led mission to Venus’ atmosphere since 1978, and its findings could shed new light on the formation of terrestrial planets in our solar system and beyond.


VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) will attempt to map the surface of Venus to gather data on the planet’s geologic history, including finding out if plate tectonics and volcanism are still present there.

VERITAS will research Venus’ surface to learn more about the rock type at ground level and will also attempt to find out if inactive volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere.

“We’re revving up our planetary science program with intense exploration of a world that NASA hasn’t visited in over 30 years,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science. “Using cutting-edge technologies that NASA has developed and refined over many years of missions and technology programs, we’re ushering in a new decade of Venus to understand how an Earth-like planet can become a hothouse. Our goals are profound. It is not just understanding the evolution of planets and habitability in our own solar system but extending beyond these boundaries to exoplanets, an exciting and emerging area of research for NASA.”

Venus is the second planet from the sun and is sometimes referred to as the “morning star” or “evening star” for its bright appearance in the sky — in fact, it’s the brightest object in the sky after the sun.

Previous missions to Venus have revealed a surface covered with craters, volcanoes, mountains, and lava plains. NASA says of the planet, “The surface of Venus is not where you’d like to be, with temperatures that can melt lead, an atmosphere so thick it would crush you, and clouds of sulfuric acid that smell like rotten eggs to top it off.”

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
NASA’s Lucy spacecraft to visit a bonus asteroid later this year
Illustration of Lucy passing by an asteroid.

NASA's Lucy spacecraft is currently traveling through the solar system on its way to study the Trojan asteroids in the orbit of Jupiter. The original plan was for the mission to make its first close approach to an asteroid in 2025, but a new plan will see the spacecraft make a flyby of a bonus asteroid later this year.

The asteroid Lucy will pass by is tiny, at just 0.4 miles across, and is currently unnamed -- it is referred to by its technical name, 1999 VD57. But it happens to be located close to the path Lucy is taking, and by making small adjustments to the its course Lucy will be able to come even closer.

Read more
30-year-old mission to study the magnetosphere comes to a close
An artist's concept of the Geotail spacecraft.

A 30-year-old NASA-Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission has come to an end with the closing of operations on the Geotail satellite.

Launched in July 1992, Geotail was designed to study the Earth's magnetosphere. This is the region around Earth where particles are affected by our planet's magnetic field. It's important for our well-being as it protects us from dangerous space radiation. As this radiation comes primarily in the form of solar wind from the sun, the magnetosphere isn't a round bubble -- instead, it has a long tail shape on the night side of the planet caused by streaming particles from the sun.

Read more
NASA declares Mars InSight lander mission officially over
This illustration shows NASA's InSight spacecraft with its instruments deployed on the Martian surface.

Just over four years after reaching Mars, NASA has officially announced the end of its InSight lander mission.

The declaration came on Wednesday, December 21, after NASA failed to make contact with the lander across two consecutive attempts, leading the mission team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to conclude that InSight’s solar-powered batteries had run out of energy, a state referred to as “dead bus.”

Read more