Magellan probe

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)

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About Magellan

A NASA probe maps cloudy Venus.

About Magellan

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 fifth successful NASA mission to Venus, and it ended an eleven-year gap in U.S. interplanetary probe launches.

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