JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration showing the Magellan spacecraft using radar to map the surface of Venus. Magellan was NASA's first planetary mission since the Voyager craft of the late 1970s. It was deployed by Shuttle Atlantis on 5 May 1989, arriving in orbit on 10 August 1990. The first 243-day mapping cycle was commenced on 29 August 1990. Magellan used radar to penetrate the thick shroud of clouds around Venus, returning images of over 90% of the surface at unprecedented resolution. This has allowed scientists to study Venus' geology for the first time, revealing an active tectonic past. In January 1992 the intense heat radiated by Venus finally caused Magellan to fail.
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