The most recent data available was from NASA’s Magellan mission in the early 1990s, which used radar to map the surface of Venus due to its thick, cloudy atmosphere that makes direct photography challenging.
When and how were the first photographs of the surface of Venus taken?
The first photographs of the surface of Venus were taken by the Soviet Union’s Venera 9 spacecraft. Venera 9 was a part of the Venera program, which aimed to explore Venus and gather data about its atmosphere and surface conditions.
Venera 9 was launched on June 8, 1975, and it reached Venus on October 22, 1975. The spacecraft consisted of a lander and an orbiter. The lander separated from the orbiter and descended through the Venusian atmosphere. Despite the extreme conditions on Venus, including high temperatures and pressures, the lander successfully touched down on the surface.
The lander’s camera system captured and transmitted the first photographs of the Venusian surface back to Earth. These images provided valuable insights into the geological characteristics of Venus and helped scientists understand more about its harsh environment. The photographs showed rocky terrain with a reddish hue and revealed that the surface was composed of large, angular rocks.
The success of Venera 9 and subsequent missions in the Venera program contributed significantly to our understanding of Venus and its surface conditions, although it was challenging due to the planet’s thick atmosphere and extreme temperatures.