LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -NASA on Wednesday announced plans to launch two new scientific missions to Venus between 2028 and 2030 – its first in decades – to study the atmosphere and geologic history of Earth's closest planetary neighbor. 

  The U.S. space agency said it was awarding about $500 million for development of each of the two missions, dubbed DAVINCI+ (short for Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry and Imaging) and VERITAS (an acronym for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography and Spectroscopy). 

  DAVINCI+ will measure the composition of the dense Venusian atmosphere to improve the understanding of how it evolved, while VERITAS will map the planet's surface to help determine its geological history and why it developed so differently than Earth, NASA said. 

  DAVINCI+ is also expected to return the first high-resolution images of unique geological features on Venus called "tesserae," which may be comparable to Earth's continents and suggest that Venus has plate tectonics, according to NASA's announcement. 

  (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Will Dunham) 

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