The history of Venetian exploration started twenty years before Magellan’s launc when the Russian Venera spacecraft landed on the planet’s surface, and transmitted for slightly more than half an hour before suddenly going silent, and in a few weeks later for 23 minutes more — apparently the spacecraft landed on its side, which obviously made the signal transmission to Earth much more difficult. Since then over twenty spacecraft from both U.S. and Russia visited the planet, the latest of which, Magellan, brought back extraordinarily detailed pictures.
On this day, August 10, in 1990, on the 471 anniversary of the globe-circling voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, for which it was named, the Magellan space probe reached Venus.
Visibility of most of Venus’s surface is obscured by thick clouds, but Magellan used radar imaging to map out 90 percent of the surface. Among other findings, Magellan discovered rivers of lava thousands of miles long, large shield volcanoes, and the constant shifting and spreading of the planet’s half-molten surface.