The Planetary Report

March Equinox 2021

From Our Member Magazine

Every Picture From Venus' Surface, Ever

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.

Venus surface panorama from Venera 9
Venus surface panorama from Venera 9 This 1975 panorama from the Soviet Union's Venera 9 probe includes the first images ever taken from the surface of another planet.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk
Venus surface panorama from Venera 10
Venus surface panorama from Venera 10 The Soviet Union's Venera 10 probe captured this panorama of Venus's surface in 1975.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk
Venus surface panorama from Venera 13 front camera
Venus surface panorama from Venera 13 front camera The Soviet Union's Venera 13 probe captured two color panoramas of Venus's surface in 1982. This panorama came from the front camera.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk
Venus surface panorama from Venera 13 rear camera
Venus surface panorama from Venera 13 rear camera The Soviet Union's Venera 13 probe captured two color panoramas of Venus's surface in 1982. This panorama came from the rear camera.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk
Venus surface panorama from Venera 14 front camera
Venus surface panorama from Venera 14 front camera The Soviet Union's Venera 14 probe captured two color panoramas of Venus's surface in 1982. This panorama came from the front camera.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk
Venus surface panorama from Venera 14 rear camera
Venus surface panorama from Venera 14 rear camera The Soviet Union's Venera 14 probe captured two color panoramas of Venus's surface in 1982. This panorama came from the rear camera.Image: Russian Academy of Sciences / Ted Stryk

The Planetary Report • March Equinox

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