Although our celestial neighbor seems to be convenient for exploration, there are only a handful of photos ever taken on Venus’s surface. Its world is hostile, with scorching heat and harsh pressure which destroy almost any lander that touches it.
However, four spacecraft survived to tell the story of Venus and successfully returned to Earth. It was way back in the 1870s and 1890s, and these landers have been the only ones to take photos of Venus up close and personal. In this article, we bring you these photos, along with some fun facts about Venus that you may not have known.
[Related reading: NASA shares first-ever visible light images of Venus’s surface]
It was in 1975 and 1982 that four of the Soviet Union’s Venera probes took photos of Venus’ surface. NASA got relatively close last year, but not as close as Veneras. The landers scanned the surface back and forth and created panoramic images of their surroundings. “They revealed yellow skies and cracked, desolate landscapes that were both alien and familiar,” The Planetary Society writes. “Views of a world that may have once been like Earth before experiencing catastrophic climate change.”
The man behind the panoramas of Venus’s surface is Ted Stryk. He is a philosophy professor at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and specializes in reconstructing images from early space missions. He used data from the Russian Academy of Sciences and reconstructed the best-possible versions of the original Venera panoramas. Here are the rest of the images:
First, let me tell you a quick fact about the name of the probes. Venera stands for “Venus” in Russian, as well as in my native language, Serbian.
And now, here’s another fact I’ve never thought of before, yet it makes sense and it blew my mind. Did you know that Venus isn’t the closest planet to Earth? More than half of the time, it’s actually Mercury! I was today years old when I find this out, and here’s an animation that explains it better than I would.
Finally, I also find it incredible that these are the only Venus surface photos ever taken in nearly 40 years. And they’re quite enough to make my imagination run wild and think about what this would have looked like before… And what we might discover if someday scientists make a lender that will withstand Venus’s hostile environment.
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