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.
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, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST is credited...more
Driven by a recent surge in space research, the Apollo program hoped to add to the accomplishments of the Lunar Orbiter and Surveyor missions of the late 1960's. Apollo 11 was the first mission to succeed...more
Apollo 12 survived a lightning strike during its launch on Nov. 14, 1969, and arrived at the Moon three days later. Astronauts Charles Conrad and Alan Bean descended to the surface, while Richard Gordon...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
NASA chose Deep Impact to be part of a special series called the Discovery Program on July 7, 1999. In May 2001, Deep Impact was given the "go" from NASA to start with mission development. Deep Impact...more
The Galileo spacecraft was launched on October 19, 1989. Galileo had two parts: an orbiter and a descent probe that parachuted into Jupiter's atmosphere. Galileo's primary mission was to explore the Jovian...more
During 1966 through 1967, five identical Lunar Orbiter spacecrafts were launched, with the purpose of mapping the Moon's surface and finding smooth, level terrain, in preparation for the Apollo and Surveyor...more