Last Wednesday was supposed to be a banner day for planetary scientists who study Venus, the closest planet to Earth.

In recent decades, of more than a dozen missions proposed to explore Venus, only a handful had made it through NASA s preliminary round of consideration.

But as part of NASA s most recent selection of planetary missions, of the five finalists were dedicated to Venus.

Two others were dedicated to asteroids, and a final one would look for near-Earth asteroids.

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