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Venus and Earth :

The four terrestrial planets, in true colors and to scale
Figure 1 : The four terrestrial planets, in true colours and to scale

Our Solar System hosts four rocky planets – Earth, Mars, and Venus. As we study them, we discover a suprising range of evolutionary pathways – key to understanding planets and their habitability everywhere, including in other stellar systems. The NASA Magellan and ESA Venus Express missions to Venus have revealed a complex, dynamic planet with surprising similarities and differences from Earth, and yet it remains the least understood of these three planets. Further Venus exploration to find the causes of these differences is crucial to understanding how the Solar System works as well as the conditions for planet formation and the emergence of life.

In the intricaties of planetary formation and the developement of life, one cannot simply dismiss Mars as too cold and Venus as too hot. Colin Wilson is EnVision's lead atmospheric scientist and he takes a closer look at what the proximity of Venus to the Sun can explain (and what it can't !!).

In a feature podcast from Imperial College of London, lead proposer Richard Ghail and head of surface processes Philippa Mason argue for further exploration of Venus: Earth's Unloved Neighbour.

See also the Frequently Asked Question: Earth and Venus, what is the link?