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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
Picture of Venus

Venera

The Soviet space program to Venus in the late 1960's, 70's, and early 80's was very successful, with 13 of 16 Venera missions safely reaching the planet. Each Venera spacecraft was designed to either orbit Venus, probe its atmosphere, or reach its surface. Each mission gained new, valuable information, but it took much trial and error before the Soviets learned how to survive the extreme pressure of Venus' atmosphere and peer through its dense cloud cover from orbit.

Veneras 4 (in 1967), 5, and 6 (in 1969) were all probes that accumulated data on the composition of Venus' atmosphere, learning that it is largely made up of about 96% carbon dioxide, with little oxygen.

The 7th through the 14th Venera missions all successfully landed on Venus, each spacecraft spending a longer time on its surface than the previous one. Venera 10 returned the first black and white photographs of its terrain, while Venera 13 sent back the first color photos. The Venera missions also measured a surface temperature of 475 C (887 F), detected lightning, and analyzed the Venusian soil, finding rocks rare on Earth.

The last Venera installments, launched in 1983, included two orbiters that used special radar to penetrate Venus' dense cloud cover and map part of its northern hemisphere.

Despite the success of the Venera missions and the amount of interesting information they accumulated, trips to Venus in the near future are unlikely. The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 left their space program with little funding, unable to support an expensive interplanetary mission.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA