Mariner 10 image of Venus. Credit: NASA

Mariner 10 image of Venus. Credit: NASA

Did you know that roughly 40 missions between the United States, European Space Agency, Japan, and the Soviet Union have been dedicated to going to Venus and study this mysterious neighbor planet of ours? Unfortunately, not all survived the journey or landing.

How many were successful?

Of the 40-some total missions, only half were successful. And of those, only 9 were landers. The others were fly-bys or orbiters, never reaching the surface.

Who got to land on Venus?

The Soviet Union started its missions to Venus in 1961, and finally landed on Venus in 1970 with Venera 7 after several attempts that either barely made it off the planet Earth or missed Venus entirely. The United States has never put a lander on the surface.

Venera 11 lander module- a success! With instruments to study the atmosphere and surface! Image credit: http://mentallandscape.com/

Venera 11 lander module- a success! With instruments to study the atmosphere and surface! Image credit: http://mentallandscape.com/

What did the United States accomplish?

The U.S. in 1962 was successful with amazing fly-by imagery with Mariner 2, pictures we still use today to observe the intricate wind patterns and layers of Venus.

Why is it so hard to land on Venus?

Venus is our hottest planet in the Solar System with ogver 90 times pressure of Earth and 864 degrees Fahrenheit, and an array of thick cloud cover to hold all that heat in. At this temperature, metals such as lead and galena would make electronics and heat shields difficult. The lander itself would also need to be self-powered (probably nuclear) as so much cloud cover wouldn't allow solar panels. 

What was the longest time a rover lasted on Venus?

The longest a lander survived on this planet- and was still able to take pictures and atmospheric data until its demise- lasted up to 2 hours!

Thank you for reading this week's article and return next Monday for a journey to Magic Island!