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Paper: Divergent Evolution Among Earth-like Planets: The Case for Venus Exploration
Volume: 272, The Future of Solar System Exploration, 2003-2013: Community Contributions to the NRC Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey
Page: 5
Authors: Crisp, D.; Allen, M.A.; Anicich, V.G.; Arvidson, R.E.; Atreya, S.K.; Baines, K.H.; Banerdt, W.B.; Bjoraker, G.L.; Bougher, S.W.; Campbell, B.A.; Carlson, R.W.; Chin, G.; Chutjian, A.; Clancy, R.T.; Clark, B.C.; Cravens, T.E.; Del Genio, A.D.; Esposito, L.W.; Fegley, B.; Flasar, M.; Fox, J.L.; Gierasch, P.J.; Goody, R.M.; Grinspoon, D.H.; Gulkis, S.; Hansen, V.L.; Herrick, R.R.; Huestis, D.L.; Hunten, D.M.; Janssen, M.A.; Jenkins, J.; Johnson, C.L.; Keating, G.M.; Kliore, A.J.; Limaye, S.S.; Luhmann, J.G.; Lunine, J.I.; Mahaffy, P.; McGovern, P.J.; Meadows, V.S.; Mills, F.P.; Niemann, H.B.; Owen, T.C.; Oyama, K.I.; Pepin, R.O.; Plaut, J.J.; Reuter, D.C.; Richardson, M.I.; Russell, C.T.; Saunders, R.S.; Schofield, J.T.; Schubert, G.; Senske, D.A.; Shepard, M.K.; Slanger, T.G.; Smrekar, S.E.; Stevenson, D.J.; Titov, D.V.; Ustinov, E.A.; Young, R.E.; Yung, Y.L.
Abstract: The planet Venus is our most Earth-like neighbor in size, mass, and distance from the sun. In spite of these similarities, and the intense scrutiny that it received early in the space age, the Venus surface and atmosphere are characterized by some of the most enigmatic features seen anywhere in the solar system. A reinvigorated Venus exploration program is essential to the development of a comprehensive understanding of the origin and evolution of Earth-like terrestrial planets. The present NASA inner planets strategy, which focuses exclusively on Mars, will provide an incomplete, and possibly misleading description of processes that produce these objects. If Venus-like terrestrial planets are common, this approach will also impede efforts to interpret observations of extrasolar terrestrial planets, which are expected to become available by the end of the decade. Here, we propose a Venus exploration program that has been designed to explain the origin and divergent evolution of the interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres of the terrestrial planets in our solar system, and provide greater insight into the conditions that may affect the habitability of terrestrial planets in other solar systems.
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