venus

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DAVINCI Visits Hell

Illustration of a spacecraft descending through Venus’ atmosphere. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAVINCI%2B.

With acid clouds, a crushing atmosphere, and a volcanic surface, Venus might be the least hospitable place in our solar system. But, ironically, this hellish world may actually help us unlock the mystery of what makes a planet habitable, and NASA’s recently selected DAVINCI+ mission may be the key.

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Artist’s conception of a Venusian volcano. From https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/veritas-exploring-the-deep-truths-of-venus.

Rivers of molten rock slither across the surface, sulfuric acid rains down, and all beneath an ocean of toxic carbon dioxide. The planet Venus, in contradiction to its namesake, is a hateful place, and though it is now a hellscape, Venus probably started out like Earth. Understanding how these sister planets diverged so radically is one focus of NASA’s recently selected VERITAS mission. As it turns out, Venus’ violent past may be Earth’s future.

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