Image of Magellan orbiting Venus.
Click on image for full size
On May 4, 1989, Magellan was carried into space by the Atlantis space shuttle, which launched it toward Venus. It arrived on Aug. 10, 1990 and inserted itself into orbit.
Over the next 3 years, Magellan used radar to penetrate the dense cloud cover surrounding Venus and map 98% of its surface. Data sent back to Earth also allowed scientists to develop 3-D images of the planet's terrain and better understand its gravity.
After orbiting Venus for four years, the Magellan spacecraft plunged into its atmosphere, testing a new technique for controlling surface descent. Although it was crushed by the planet's pressure, scientists learned valuable information that would be used in future missions.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
Venus is one of the brightest objects in the sky. It is always found near the Sun. It rises and sets each day, so it has the nicknames Morning and Evening Star! Scientists found that Venus rotates backwards....more
Radar is short for "radio detection and ranging". A radar dish sends out pulses of radio waves. These waves bounce off objects and return to the dish. A radar echo shows up on the monitor and shows where...more
The space shuttle Atlantis finished its last flight when it landed in May 2010. NASA is retiring the whole fleet of space shuttles by the end of 2010. Discovery and Endeavor are the other two shuttles...more
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is really neat! It was first launched in 1990, but scientists started building it in the 1970's! We have found all kinds of objects like stars, nebulae and galaxies. The...more
Apollo 11 was the first mission that landed a person on the moon. On July 16, 1969, the U. S. rocket Saturn 5 was launched carrying the lunar landing module Eagle. The Eagle was released and it reached...more
Apollo 12 was launched on Nov. 14, 1969 and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to its surface, while Richard Gordon remained in lunar orbit aboard the...more
Apollo 15 marked the start of a new series of missions from the Apollo space program, each capable of exploring more lunar terrain than ever before. Launched on July 26, 1971, Apollo 15 reached the Moon...more