Launched from the space shuttle Atlantis in 1989, Magellan journeyed to Venus, entering an orbit that took it over the planet's poles.
As Venus rotated, Magellan's radar penetrated the thick cloud that hides the surface. Magellan mapped Venus's surface in long, thin strips that covered 98% of the planet's surface.
NASA mission scientists discovered that Venus is covered with volcanoes and strange landforms unlike any on the Earth. The probe saw few impact craters, suggesting Venus has a relatively young surface.
Photo: View of Venus composed almost entirely of Magellan radar images (NASA/JPL/USGS)
A NASA probe maps cloudy Venus.
Radar sees through the planet's thick cloud.
The Magellan spacecraft ended its mission in 1994 after mapping the surface of Venus using cloud penetrating radar. The probe revealed numerous volcanoes and lava flows around the planet. Venus's noxious atmosphere, high temperatures and pressures make landing a probe on the surface very difficult.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guest explain the Magellan probe's instruments.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guest Dr Peter Cattermole discuss Magellan's radar and other instruments as the probe starts its mapping mission at Venus in 1990.
Sir Patrick Moore and Dr Peter Cattermole discuss the probe's first images of Venus.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guest Dr Peter Cattermole have a look at the first radar images of Venus returned from the Magellan probe in 1990. Dr Cattermole describes and interprets the geology of Venus on the basis of what he sees in the images.
The Magellan probe shows mysterious Venusian geology.
The American Magellan probe arrived at Venus in 1990 and mapped the cloud covered planet in unprecedented detail. The spacecraft's powerful radar penetrated the thick atmosphere and accurately recorded Venus's surface features. Scientists were surprised that the planet's geology turned out to be so unlike the Earth's.
Patrick Moore and his guests give a rundown of Earth's 'evil twin'.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guests Professor Fred Taylor from Oxford University and Dr Dave Rothery from The Open University discuss what we know about Venus from the probes that have visited the planet.
The Magellan spacecraft, also referred to as the Venus Radar Mapper, was a 1,035-kilogram (2,282 lb) robotic space probe launched by NASA on May 4, 1989, to map the surface of Venus by using synthetic aperture radar and to measure the planetary gravitational field.
The Magellan probe was the first interplanetary mission to be launched from the Space Shuttle, the first one to use the Inertial Upper Stage booster for launching, and the first spacecraft to test aerobraking as a method for circularizing its orbit. Magellan was the fourth successful NASA mission to Venus, and it ended an eleven-year gap in U.S. interplanetary probe launches.