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Magellan Mission to Venus

Magellan Mission to Venus

NASA's Magellan spacecraft used a sophisticated imaging radar to make the most highly detailed maps of Venus ever captured during its four years in orbit around Earth's sister planet from 1990 to 1994. After concluding its radar mapping, Magellan also made global maps of Venus's gravity field. Flight controllers also tested a new maneuvering technique called aerobraking, which uses a planet's atmosphere to slow or steer a spacecraft. Craters shown in the radar images that Magellan sent to Earth tell scientists that Venus's surface appears relatively young -- resurfaced about 500 million years ago by widespread volcanic eruptions. The planet's present harsh environment has persisted at least since then, with no features detected suggesting the presence of oceans or lakes at any time in the planet's past. Scientists also found no evidence of plate tectonics, the movements of huge crustal masses on Earth that cause earthquakes and result in the drifting of continents over time spans of hundreds of millions of years. In October 1994 Magellan's mission is expected to end with a dramatic plunge to the planet's surface, the first time an operating planetary spacecraft has ever been...


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