It’s hot. It’s toxic. It spins backwards and is covered in volcanoes. And we’re headed there soon. Three Venus missions, recently announced by NASA and the European Space Agency, are going to reveal more than we’ve ever known about the scorcher of a planet, a place that many scientists describe as Earth’s evil twin.

In recent weeks, NASA green-lit two Venus missions, VERITAS and DAVINCI+, while the ESA announced a Venus orbiter called EnVision. Already, planetary scientists are exhilarated by the possibilities. We spoke with several experts about why Venus is so exciting.

Katie Cooper.“I was a bit giddy all day after I heard the announcement,” said Katie Cooper, a planetary scientist at Washington State University who specializes in tectonic evolution, in an email. “I’m particularly excited to learn more about the plateaus on Venus, which are interesting but challenging analogs to Earth’s own large plateaus. On Earth, plateaus like the Tibetan Plateau or the Altiplano Plateau have their origins in plate tectonics, but on Venus that may not be the case.”

Cooper added that what we learn “will not only give us insight into Venus, but also pre-plate tectonic periods within Earth’s own history.”

Find out more