10.08.

1990: The First Interplanetary Probe Launched from a Space Shuttle Reaches Venus

1990: The First Interplanetary Probe Launched from a Space Shuttle Reaches Venus
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/Launch site: the Florida's Kennedy Space Center

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 10 August 1990
  • The primary mission of the Magellan probe was to map Venus’s surface using a radar, and to measure the planet’s magnetic field. The radar recorded a series of Venus’s volcanoes, and it was noticed that the planet has very few craters.

On this day in 1990 the Magellan space probe entered into orbit around the planet Venus.

It is interesting that the Magellan probe was the first interplanetary probe in history which was launched using a space shuttle, rather than from the Earth’s surface.

The probe had a mass of around one ton, roughly equivalent to the average car, and carried almost two-and-a-half tons of fuel.

The Magellan probe reached space on 4 May 1989 with the help of the space shuttle Atlantis. Already the next day, while the shuttle was in orbit, the Magellan probe was taken out of the shuttle’s cargo compartment and launched with the help of a separate rocket stage, on a course for Venus.

The Magellan probe went into Venus’s orbit on this day in 1990. It is interesting that the probe was slowed down when it entered the upper layers of Venus’s atmosphere.

Namely, this caused friction, which slowed the probe down and steered it into the planet’s orbit.

The primary mission of the Magellan probe was to map Venus’s surface using a radar, and to measure the planet’s magnetic field.

A radar was necessary because Venus has a very thick atmosphere, which means that a visual examination of its surface is not possible. The radar recorded a series of Venus’s volcanoes, and it was noticed that the planet has very few craters.

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