- Outer Planets
VENUS PLANETARY PROBES
Mariner 2 was the first space probe to reach a planet other than the Earth. It was launched in August of 1962 and made close-up observations of Venus in December of the same year. Mariner 2 observed that Venus did indeed have a very hot surface, noted that the thick cloud cover had no breaks, and also found that Venus did not have a magnetic field. Mariner 2 flew within 34,400 kilometers of the surface of Venus and transmitted to Earth information about its temperature and details about its atmosphere and rotational period.
The Soviet probe, Venera 7, was the first probe to land on Venus. Unfortunately, it was put out of operation within an hour by Venus' high temperature. In 1982, Venera 13 transmitted the first color pictures from Venus' surface.
The Magellan spacecraft was deployed from the Space Shuttle Atlantis as part of Shuttle mission STS-30 in 1989. Magellan arrived at Venus on August 10, 1990. The probe was able to collect radar images of 98 percent of the planet before the mission ended.
PIONEER VENUS ORBITER
The Pioneer Orbiter of Venus was launched on May 20, 1978. It entered an orbit around Venus in December of that same year. Its primary objectives were to investigate the solar wind in the Venusian environment, use radar imaging to map Venus' surface and study the characteristics of the Venusian upper atmosphere and ionosphere. Most of the Orbiter instruments were still working when the probe entered the Venusian atmosphere in October of 1992.