Exploring the Planets

Mysteries Remain

Artist's conception of an aerobot over Venus.
Courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Even after the highly successful Magellan mission, many questions about Venus remain unanswered.

  • How old is the surface? Has Venus undergone massive volcanic resurfacing? Is volcanic activity still underway?
  • Do different areas have different kinds of rock? How do the surface and atmosphere interact chemically? How quickly does weathering occur?
  • What is the precise chemical composition of the atmosphere? How does it vary with location and altitude? When and how did Venus's runaway greenhouse effect occur? Did Venus ever have an ocean?

Future Missions to Venus

Future missions may answer some of these questions. They could include long-lived landers, specialized descent probes, aerobots (controllable balloons), and long-term orbital atmospheric monitoring satellites.