How It Works

The mapping of Venus

The dawn of the 1990s saw Cool Britannia, Brit Pop, Gazza’s tears and some absurd haircuts but also (much more importantly) the first detailed mapping of Venus.

Did you know? The spacecraft is named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

Long an objective of mankind, the first attempts to visit Venus were on the Soviet ‘Venera’ programme when probes managed to safely land on the second planet from the Sun. However, it was not until NASA’s Magellan in 1990 that Venus was mapped in detail. The craft’s mission lasted four years and it discovered a thick Venusian atmosphere which protected the surface of the planet. Magellan located various volcanoes but few impact craters which showed that Venus had a relatively young surface.

Below are some images of the craft and its discoveries.

Magellan on the space shuttle
Magellan on the space shuttle
Magellan about to exit the shuttle and begin its journey to  Venus
magellan about to exit the shuttle and begin its journey to Venus
An original image of a crater found by the craft
An original image of a crater found by the craft
A 3D rendered image of Magellan's findings
A 3D rendered image of Magellan’s findings