Mission to VENUS to scan whether Earth’s ‘evil twin’ once hosted life is announced by ESA

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THE EUROPEAN Space Agency has revealed it will be sending a probe called EnVision to study the planet Venus.

This announcement comes one week after Nasa revealed it will be sending its Veritas and Davinci+ probes towards the second planet from the Sun.

Venus is often called Earth's "evil twin" because it's similar to our planet in a few ways but very hot and inhospitable

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Venus is often called Earth’s “evil twin” because it’s similar to our planet in a few ways but very hot and inhospitableCredit: Reuters

The trio will work together to make the most of the missions.

Launches could begin at the end of this decade.

EnVision is expected to arrive at Venus in 2034 or 2035.

Venus is often described as Earth’s “evil twin” because it’s rocky and a very similar size to Earth but also extremely hot and dry.

The EnVision orbiter could get there as early as 2034

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The EnVision orbiter could get there as early as 2034Credit: PA

The three missions will aim to answer why the planet differs so much from our own and whether Venus was once as hospitable as Earth.

British scientists will play a leading role in trying to find out more about the past of the hot planet.

If evidence of a once hospitable habitat is found, this could potentially lead to more missions to search for evidence of ancient life.

Interest in Venus has spiked recently after a study detected phosphine gas in its clouds and said this could be a sign of microbial life.

According to the BBC, Dr Colin Wilson, who help scope Envision, said: “Venus is our nearest neighbour and the only Earth-sized planet we can visit.

“It’s geologically active, we think. And if that’s the case we want to know why Venus didn’t turn out like Earth?

“Or, perhaps, the even better question is: why didn’t Earth develop like Venus? How come we got the habitable climate?”

EnVision will be focussed on the nature of Venus.

Nasa’s missions will be making maps and looking for evidence of geological activity like volcanoes.

EnVision will study the composition of rock to try and work out if there was ever water on the planet.

It will focus on areas that are considered the equivalent of Earth’s continents.

They’re called “tesserae” and EnVision could work out whether they were ever separated by water.

Previous missions suggest there are hundreds of thousands of volcanoes on the planet but we don’t know how many are still active today.

The budget for the mission is around €550million (£470million).

Venus – what you need to know

Here’s what you need to know…

  • Venus is nearly the same size as Earth with a diameter of 12,104 km compared to Earth’s 12,742 km
  • Venus is so hot that the surface temperature can reach 471 °C
  • It rotates in the opposition direction to most planets, potentially due to an asteroid collision
  • The first man-made aircraft landed on Venus in 1996
  • Venus is the hottest planet in the Solar System
  • It is the second brightest object in the sky at night
NASA announces missions to Venus to discover if sizzling planet was ever habitable and how it became lead-melting inferno

In other space news, Richard Branson could beat Jeff Bezos to space next month.

Scientist Brian Cox believes there could be 200 billion alien civilisations in the universe.

And, the world’s first reality show filmed in space will follow a contestant on a 10-day trip to the ISS in 2023.


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