Ignorance About Venus Could Mean Trouble for Exoplanets

The surface of Venus, as seen in 1991 by the Magellan spacecraft. In our solar system, Venus is the only planet that can compare with our own in terms of size and distance from the sun. Nevertheless, we know shockingly little about our neighbor.
04_02_venus_surface_science Source: NASA/JPL

NASA’s next planet-hunting telescope, called the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite—or TESS—is expected to launch April 16, in hopes of identifying more than 1,000 exoplanets for scientists to study. But it turns out that a lack of research much closer to home may make it harder for scientists to act on the data TESS sends home.

Exoplanet scientists are particularly interested in planets about the size of Earth because they are the most tantalizing candidates for hiding extraterrestrial life. In our solar system, Venus is the only planet that can compare with our own

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