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After years of waiting, an armada of spacecraft are headed to Venus. US scientists were thrilled earlier this month when NASA approved not one, but two new missions to our closest planetary neighbour. Now, Europe has followed suit and approved its own mission. The explorations raise the prospect that major questions about this planet — from whether it once had oceans and was therefore habitable to whether it still has active volcanoes — could finally be answered.

On 2 June, NASA announced it would send two spacecraft to Venus this decade: VERITAS, an orbiter that will map the planet’s surface, and DAVINCI+, which includes a probe that will dive into Venus’s atmosphere. On 10 June, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced its own orbiter, EnVision, that would launch in the early 2030s to take high-resolution radar images of the planet’s surface.

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