Only 4 spacecraft have ever returned images from Venus’ surface. The world next door doesn’t make it easy, with searing heat and crushing pressure that quickly destroy any lander.
In 1975 and 1982, 4 of the Soviet Union’s Venera probes captured our only images of Venus’ surface. The Veneras, which mean “Venus” in Russian, scanned the surface back and forth to create panoramic images of their surroundings. They revealed yellow skies and cracked, desolate landscapes that were both alien and familiar—views of a world that may have once been like Earth before experiencing catastrophic climate change.
Ted Stryk, a philosophy professor at Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, specializes in reconstructing images from early space missions. Using data from the Russian Academy of Sciences, he has over time reconstructed the best-possible versions of the original Venera panoramas.