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Venus in full view. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has chosen two new missions to unlock the mysteries of Earth's evil twin: Venus.

Why it matters: This marks the first time the space agency will send dedicated missions to the cloudy planet in more than 30 years.

What's happening: The agency announced Wednesday it plans to launch both the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030.

  • DAVINCI+ is designed to learn about the composition of the planet's thick atmosphere to assess how it has changed over time and whether the world once played host to oceans.
  • The spacecraft will also drop a probe into the planet's atmosphere to collect data about why the world's runaway greenhouse effect took off.
  • VERITAS, on the other hand, is expected to use a special kind of radar imager to peer through the planet’s clouds and map Venus’ surface to confirm whether the planet has active plate tectonics or volcanism.

What they're saying: "This is, to my knowledge, an unprecedented decision by NASA: to pick two missions to a single world, designed to take complementary measurements to understand the past climate and present activity of the Earth-size world next door... is absolutely remarkable," planetary scientist Paul Byrne told Axios via Twitter. "We are going to learn things we haven't even thought of yet."

  • "We hope these missions will further our understanding of how Earth evolved, and why it's currently habitable and others and our solar system are not," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said during a press briefing.

Go deeper

Sep 7, 2021 - World

Christian leaders appeal for action on climate change

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (from left), Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Portal Welby are seated in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, in September 2016. Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images

The pope, ecumenical patriarch and archbishop of Canterbury appealed to world leaders to address the "current climate crisis" to preserve the planet for future generations in an unprecedented joint statement on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The call to action comes ahead of the United Nations climate talks scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland. Pope Francis is expected to attend the talks, according to John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate change.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Investors pour millions into immersive, interactive art experiences

Photo Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

How much would you pay for "a sleek, if pleasantly confusing, package of moods" or "a confusing tangle of disjointed installations" or even "the total erosion of meaning itself"? The answer, according to the current market-clearing price, seems to be about $35.

Why it matters: Investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ticketed experiences — immersive, interactive museum-like spaces that don't have the d0-not-touch stuffiness of traditional museums.

Special Envoy for Haiti resigns over Biden deportations

Daniel Foote testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 26, 2016. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Special Envoy for Haiti on Wednesday resigned from his position, writing in his resignation letter obtained by PBS that he "will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees."

Why it matters: Ambassador Daniel Foote's resignation comes amid heightened anger over the treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers living in a temporary encampment in Del Rio, Texas — especially after images surfaced of Border Patrol agents whipping at the migrants from horseback.