Soviet Venera 15 and 16 spacecraft collaborated for 8 months on an eight month mission, during which they used their autofluorescing nephelometers to blast clouds with ultraviolet light and cause their droplets to fluoresce, creating a radar map of Venus. Each spacecraft released a lander equipped with color cameras and instruments such as autofluorescing nephelometers which cause droplets of precipitation to fluoresce when hit with ultraviolet light, producing a complete image map of Venus
VERITAS will also explore Venus’ tesserae, strange continentlike plateaus that dot its surface. These may hold rocks which reveal when climate changed abruptly on Venus.
Venera 7 became the first Soviet spacecraft to explore Venus when it touched down on December 15, 1970 on what is today known as Navka Planitia at 5oS 351oE, providing scientists with their first look at our planet’s deadly twin planet.
The craft’s lander consisted of a one-ton ball made of welded titanium equipped with parachutes and sensing instruments; this provided minimal utility beyond being capable of surviving in Venusian atmosphere.
After four-month voyage to our nearest celestial “twin,” Earth, the lander separated from its cruise bus and entered its night side atmosphere at approximately 60 km per second, before its parachute ripped and it crashed to Earth’s surface six minutes into descent.
Soviet spacecraft Venera 9 and 10 provided TV imagery of Venus. Both probes entered near-polar orbits day apart, transmitting data about pressure, surface temperature, light levels and cloud coverage on this distant world.
After performing aerodynamic braking and parachute system deployment, the probe extended its antenna and transmitted 35 minutes of very weak signals; making history as the first spacecraft ever to transmit data directly from another planet after landing there.
Scientists hope that future missions, like DAVINCI+, will provide scientists with answers about whether phosphine exists in Earth’s atmosphere by inspecting it at different wavelengths of light. Venus Express was successful at showing scientists signs of transparency at least at one wavelength visible light, allowing them to detect hotspots that could indicate active volcanoes on Venus’ atmosphere.
DAVINCI+ was specifically created to study Venus’ atmosphere. It can peer through clouds infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths and test whether Venus has always been hot – something some scientists speculate.
The lander survived on Venus for about one day under conditions 92.6 times more pressurized and hotter than Earth, providing an immense amount of data.
Engineers adapted the spacecraft’s heat-resistant technology to the extreme working environment of Venus. Exotic lubricants and materials were employed to keep delicate equipment operating under such high pressures and temperatures. This mission, which ran until February 1980, proved that Venus is covered by carbon dioxide atmospheric layers.
Venera 12 was intended to land and transmit information before succumbing to Venus’ intense temperatures and pressures, yet lasted 63 minutes on its journey and sent back first-ever color images of Venus’ orange-brown landscape.
It also revealed that Venus has an atmosphere composed of 96% carbon dioxide and 3% nitrogen, along with toxic concentrations of sulphur and chlorine compounds that pose health threats. Furthermore, microphones on board the lander were even capable of recording thunderstorms on Venus!
In 1978, two Soviet spacecraft flew by Venus with two rovers that measured its chemical composition within its dense clouds. They discovered that day and night sides have nearly identical temperatures and an abundance of long-lived radioactive isotopes that exist simultaneously on each.
Venera 13 and its twin probe, Venera 14, were the first spacecraft to successfully land on Venus and send back photographs depicting a harsh, alien landscape of impact craters and dramatic rises – images which still haunt us today.
The lander survived for 57 minutes on Mars before succumbing to atmospheric pressures that proved too great for it. The mechanical drilling arm collected samples that were later examined using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer which determined they resembled oceanic tholeiitic basalts found here on Earth.
Venusian environments can be extremely hostile. Equipment that could withstand years on Mars or the Moon would likely vaporize within minutes on Venus, where temperatures reach 550 degrees Fahrenheit and air density is 90 times that of Earth.
After four months in space, the descent vehicle disembarked from its bus and plunged into Venus’ atmosphere, using air braking technology for final descent. A parachute was deployed at approximately 50 km altitude for final landing.
The lander transmitted a weak signal for 23 minutes and reported temperatures up to 475 degrees Celsius (887 Fahrenheit), along with atmospheric pressures 90 times greater than Earth. Additionally, it detected what appeared to be basaltic plains as well as wind noise recordings.
The lander carried colour cameras that provided images of rocky landscapes illuminated by yellow-orange sunlight filtered through thick clouds, as well as nephelometer, mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph measurements.