Last Wednesday was supposed to be a banner day for planetary scientists who study Venus, the closest planet to Earth. In recent decades, of more than a dozen missions proposed to explore Venus, only a handful had made it through NASA’s preliminary round of consideration. But as part of NASA’s most recent selection of planetary missions, two of the five finalists were dedicated to Venus. Two others were dedicated to asteroids, and a final one would look for near-Earth asteroids. “With five total missions, and an expectation that two missions were going to be accepted, it seemed natural to do a Venus one and an asteroid one,” said Robert Grimm, a program director in the space science division of the Southwest Research Institute. “It’s safe to say the Venus community was very happy to see two of its missions among the finalists.” Further ReadingNASA chooses two asteroid missions instead of a Venus return Yet NASA did not ultimately select a Venus mission. Instead it chose to send spacecraft to both a group of asteroids in Jupiter’s orbit and a metal-rich rock in the asteroid belt. The decision left Grimm, who chairs the Venus Exploration Advisory Group but did not have a… Read full this story
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