Dense clouds of sulfuric acid blanketing Venus have posed a problem for scientists seeking inside information about Earth's nearest planetary neighbor.
Now, the Venus Express probe, launched by the European Space Agency in 2005, has ventured beneath those clouds and found evidence that Venus once had more water than it does today. The probe also provided detailed new measurements of the weather on Venus, proof of lightning on the planet, and signs of a formerly unknown hot spot near its south pole.
In nine papers appearing in the Nov. 29 Nature, researchers say these findings could be useful for understanding Earth's atmosphere too.
"Venus resembles the Earth in many, many ways," says An