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A global view of Venus

In three newly-approved missions to Venus, scientists will probe the planet’s atmosphere and geology.Credit: JSC/NASA

Three missions to the ‘forgotten planet’

Three missions are headed to Venus, breaking a years-long dry spell in exploring our planetary neighbour. On 2 June, NASA announced it would send two spacecraft to Venus this decade. VERITAS is an orbiter that will map the planet’s surface. DAVINCI+ includes a probe that will dive into Venus’s atmosphere. On 10 June, the European Space Agency announced its own orbiter, EnVision. It will launch in the early 2030s to take high-resolution radar images of the planet’s surface. Only one probe currently orbits the planet: Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, which arrived in 2015 and is studying the planet’s atmosphere. “Venus has been a forgotten planet for too long,” says space scientist Håkan Svedhem.

Nature | 7 min read

How scientists are embracing NFTs

Science is hopping on the bandwagon of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — receipts of ownership of digital files that are bought and sold online. Last week, the University of California, Berkeley, auctioned off an NFT that was based on documents relating to the work of Nobel-prizewinning cancer researcher James Allison for more than US$50,000. On 17 June, the US Space Force — a branch of the US Armed Forces — started selling a series of NFTs featuring augmented reality images of satellites and space iconography. And next week, computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, is auctioning an NFT featuring the source code of the original web browser, along with a silent video of the code being typed out.

Nature | 8 min read

Billion-dose vaccine plan is ‘a tipping point’

There has been an infusion of hope for the effort to get COVID-19 vaccines to everyone who needs them. At the G7 meeting, the leaders of the seven major industrialized democracies committed to donating one billion doses by the end of next year, mostly through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) initiative. COVAX aims to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of this year, but so far has managed only 87 million. “We didn’t want there to be a sort of dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, and then a huge surge in supply, which is going to challenge any country,” says the World Health Organization’s Kate O’Brien. “But it’s where we are now, and everybody wants this pandemic to end. So it’s what has to be done.”

Science | 8 min read

Ancient rhino is an absolute unit

A new species of ancient giant rhino, Paraceratherium linxiaense, weighed about 21 tonnes and could reach up to 7 metres high. But they wouldn't have had the rhino’s namesake horn — which evolved later — and would have looked more like a really, really big horse. “These animals would have been bigger than any land mammal that’s alive today,” says palaeontologist Luke Holbrook.

New Scientist | 4 min read

Reference: Communications Biology paper

Features & opinion

Small bipedal dinosaurs made of a metallic substance walk around the feet of humans on paving stones

Illustration by Jacey

Futures: Planned obsolescence

Mortal robots, immortal dinosaurs and a wry rumination on why we choose to make things disposable inhabit the latest short story for Nature’s Futures series.

Nature | 6 min read

The top 10 places to go looking for life

Finding life in the Solar System isn’t just about how likely life is to exist — it’s about how easy it would be to spot it. Space journalist Neel V. Patel offers his ranking of the 10 best places in our stellar neighbourhood to look for extraterrestrial life.

Technology Review | 11 min read

Podcast: communities, COVID and credit

This week, Nature has a special issue on collaborations, looking at the benefits to science and society that working together can bring. In this collaboration-themed edition of the Nature Podcast, we’re joined by Nature Chief Careers Editor David Payne, who explores the state of research collaborations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nature Podcast | 31 min listen

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