History Podcasts

Venus Timeline

Venus Timeline


Venus

Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. As the brightest natural object in Earth's night sky after the Moon, Venus can cast shadows and can be, on rare occasions, visible to the naked eye in broad daylight. [17] [18] Venus lies within Earth's orbit, and so never appears to venture far from the Sun, either setting in the west just after dusk or rising in the east a little while before dawn. Venus orbits the Sun every 224.7 Earth days. [19] With a sidereal rotation period of 243 Earth days and a synodic day length of 117 Earth days, it takes significantly longer to rotate about its axis than any other planet in the Solar System, and does so in the opposite direction to all but Uranus (meaning the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east). [20] Venus does not have any moons, a distinction it shares only with Mercury among the planets in the Solar System. [21]

  • 96.5% carbon dioxide
  • 3.5% nitrogen
  • 0.015% sulfur dioxide
  • 0.0070% argon
  • 0.0020% water vapour
  • 0.0017% carbon monoxide
  • 0.0012% helium
  • 0.0007% neon
  • Trace carbonyl sulfide
  • Trace hydrogen chloride
  • Trace hydrogen fluoride
  1. ^ Defining the rotation as retrograde, as done by NASA space missions and the USGS, puts Ishtar Terra in the northern hemisphere and makes the axial tilt 2.64°. Following the right-hand rule for prograde rotation puts Ishtar Terra in the southern hemisphere and makes the axial tilt 177.36°.

Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth's "sister planet" because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition. It is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has the densest atmosphere of the four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% carbon dioxide. The atmospheric pressure at the planet's surface is about 92 times the sea level pressure of Earth, or roughly the pressure at 900 m (3,000 ft) underwater on Earth. Even though Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus has the hottest surface of any planet in the Solar System, with a mean temperature of 737 K (464 °C 867 °F). Venus is shrouded by an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of sulfuric acid, preventing its surface from being seen from space in visible light. It may have had water oceans in the past, [22] [23] but these would have vaporized as the temperature rose due to a runaway greenhouse effect. [24] The water has probably photodissociated, and the free hydrogen has been swept into interplanetary space by the solar wind because of the lack of a planetary magnetic field. [25]

As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed. It has been made sacred to gods of many cultures, and has been a prime inspiration for writers and poets as the "morning star" and "evening star". Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC. [26]

Due to its proximity to Earth, Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration. It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2 in 1962), and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7 in 1970). Venus's thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991. Plans have been proposed for rovers or more complex missions, but they are hindered by Venus's hostile surface conditions. The possibility of life on Venus has long been a topic of speculation, and in recent years has received active research.


Chronology of Lunar and Planetary Exploration

1957
Sputnik 1 - 4 October 1957 - Earth Orbiter
Sputnik 2 - 3 November 1957 - Earth Orbiter
Vanguard TV3 - 6 December 1957 - Attempted Earth Orbiter (Launch Failure)
1958
Explorer 1 - 1 February 1958 - Earth Orbiter
Vanguard 1 - 17 March 1958 - Earth Orbiter
Pioneer 0 - 17 August 1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
Luna 1958A - 23 September 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
Pioneer 1 - 11 October 1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
Luna 1958B - 12 October 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
Pioneer 2 - 8 November 1958 - Attempted Lunar Orbit (Launch Failure)
Luna 1958C - 4 December 1958 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
Pioneer 3 - 6 December 1958 - Attempted Lunar Flyby (Launch Failure)
1959
Luna 1 - 2 January 1959 - Lunar Flyby (Attempted Lunar Impact?)
Pioneer 4 - 3 March 1959 - Lunar Flyby
Luna 1959A - 16 June 1959 - Attempted Lunar Impact? (Launch Failure)
Luna 2 - 12 September 1959 - Lunar Impact
Luna 3 - 4 October 1959 - Lunar Flyby
Pioneer P-3 - 26 November 1959 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
1960
Luna 1960A - 15 April 1960 - Attempted Lunar Flyby (Launch Failure)
Luna 1960B - 18 April 1960 - Attempted Lunar Flyby (Launch Failure)
Pioneer P-30 - 25 Sept 1960 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Marsnik 1 (Mars 1960A) - 10 October 1960 - Attempted Mars Flyby (Launch Failure)
Marsnik 2 (Mars 1960B) - 14 October 1960 - Attempted Mars Flyby (Launch Failure)
Pioneer P-31 - 15 December 1960 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
1961
Sputnik 7 - 4 February 1961 - Attempted Venus Impact
Venera 1 - 12 February 1961 - Venus Flyby (Contact Lost)
Ranger 1 - 23 August 1961 - Attempted Lunar Test Flight
Ranger 2 - 18 November 1961 - Attempted Lunar Test Flight
1962
Ranger 3 - 26 January 1962 - Attempted Lunar Impact
Ranger 4 - 23 April 1962 - Lunar Impact
Mariner 1 - 22 July 1962 - Attempted Venus Flyby (Launch Failure)
Sputnik 19 - 25 August 1962 - Attempted Venus Flyby
Mariner 2 - 27 August 1962 - Venus Flyby
Sputnik 20 - 1 September 1962 - Attempted Venus Flyby
Sputnik 21 - 12 September 1962 - Attempted Venus Flyby
Ranger 5 - 18 October 1962 - Attempted Lunar Impact
Sputnik 22 - 24 October 1962 - Attempted Mars Flyby
Mars 1 - 1 November 1962 - Mars Flyby (Contact Lost)
Sputnik 24 - 4 November 1962 - Attempted Mars Lander
1963
Sputnik 25 - 4 January 1963 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Luna 1963B - 2 February 1963 - Attempted Lunar Lander (Launch Failure)
Luna 4 - 2 April 1963 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Cosmos 21 - 11 November 1963 - Attempted Venera Test Flight?
1964
Ranger 6 - 30 January 1964 - Lunar Impact (Cameras Failed)
Venera 1964A - 19 February 1964 - Attempted Venus Flyby (Launch Failure)
Venera 1964B - 1 March 1964 - Attempted Venus Flyby (Launch Failure)
Luna 1964A - 21 March 1964 - Attempted Lunar Lander (Launch Failure)
Cosmos 27 - 27 March 1964 - Attempted Venus Flyby
Zond 1 - 2 April 1964 - Venus Flyby (Contact Lost)
Luna 1964B - 20 April 1964 - Attempted Lunar Lander (Launch Failure)
Zond 1964A - 4 June 1964 - Attempted Lunar Lander (Launch Failure)
Ranger 7 - 28 July 1964 - Lunar Impact
Mariner 3 - 5 November 1964 - Attempted Mars Flyby
Mariner 4 - 28 November 1964 - Mars Flyby
Zond 2 - 30 November 1964 - Mars Flyby (Contact Lost)
1965
Ranger 8 - 17 February 1965 - Lunar Impact
Cosmos 60 - 12 March 1965 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Ranger 9 - 21 March 1965 - Lunar Impact
Luna 1965A - 10 April 1965 - Attempted Lunar Lander? (Launch Failure)
Luna 5 - 9 May 1965 - Lunar Impact (Attempted Soft Landing)
Luna 6 - 8 June 1965 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Zond 3 - 18 July 1965 - Lunar Flyby
Luna 7 - 4 October 1965 - Lunar Impact (Attempted Soft Landing)
Venera 2 - 12 November 1965 - Venus Flyby (Contact Lost)
Venera 3 - 16 November 1965 - Venus Lander (Contact Lost)
Cosmos 96 - 23 November 1965 - Attempted Venus Lander?
Venera 1965A - 23 November 1965 - Attempted Venus Flyby (Launch Failure)
Luna 8 - 3 December 1965 - Lunar Impact (Attempted Soft Landing?)
1966
Luna 9 - 31 January 1966 - Lunar Lander
Cosmos 111 - 1 March 1966 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter?
Luna 10 - 31 March 1966 - Lunar Orbiter
Luna 1966A - 30 April 1966 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter? (Launch Failure)
Surveyor 1 - 30 May 1966 - Lunar Lander
Explorer 33 - 1 July 1966 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter
Lunar Orbiter 1 - 10 August 1966 - Lunar Orbiter
Luna 11 - 24 August 1966 - Lunar Orbiter
Surveyor 2 - 20 September 1966 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Luna 12 - 22 October 1966 - Lunar Orbiter
Lunar Orbiter 2 - 6 November 1966 - Lunar Orbiter
Luna 13 - 21 December 1966 - Lunar Lander
1967
Lunar Orbiter 3 - 4 February 1967 - Lunar Orbiter
Surveyor 3 - 17 April 1967 - Lunar Lander
Lunar Orbiter 4 - 8 May 1967 - Lunar Orbiter
Venera 4 - 12 June 1967 - Venus Probe
Mariner 5 - 14 June 1967 - Venus Flyby
Cosmos 167 - 17 June 1967 - Attempted Venus Probe
Surveyor 4 - 14 July 1967 - Attempted Lunar Lander
Explorer 35 (IMP-E) - 19 July 1967 - Lunar Orbiter
Lunar Orbiter 5 - 1 August 1967 - Lunar Orbiter
Surveyor 5 - 8 September 1967 - Lunar Lander
Zond 1967A - 28 September 1967 - Attempted Lunar Test Flight (Launch Failure)
Surveyor 6 - 7 November 1967 - Lunar Lander
Zond 1967B - 22 November 1967 - Attempted Lunar Test Flight (Launch Failure)
1968
Surveyor 7 - 7 January 1968 - Lunar Lander
Luna 1968A - 7 February 1968 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Zond 4 - 2 March 1968 - Test Flight
Luna 14 - 7 April 1968 - Lunar Orbiter
Zond 1968A - 23 April 1968 - Attempted Lunar Test Flight? (Launch Failure)
Zond 5 - 15 September 1968 - Lunar Flyby and Return to Earth
Zond 6 - 10 November 1968 - Lunar Flyby and Return to Earth
Apollo 8 - 21 December 1968 - Crewed Lunar Orbiter
1969
Venera 5 - 5 January 1969 - Venus Probe
Venera 6 - 10 January 1969 - Venus Probe
Zond 1969A - 20 January 1969 - Attempted Lunar Flyby and Return (Launch Failure)
Luna 1969A - 19 February 1969 - Attempted Lunar Rover? (Launch Failure)
Zond L1S-1 - 21 February 1969 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Mariner 6 - 25 February 1969 - Mars Flyby
Mariner 7 - 27 March 1969 - Mars Flyby
Mars 1969A - 27 March 1969 - Attempted Mars Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Mars 1969B - 2 April 1969 - Attempted Mars Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Luna 1969B - 15 April 1969 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return? (Launch Failure)
Apollo 10 - 18 May 1969 - Crewed Lunar Orbiter
Luna 1969C - 14 June 1969 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return? (Launch Failure)
Zond L1S-2 - 3 July 1969 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Luna 15 - 13 July 1969 - Lunar Orbiter (Attempted Lunar Lander?)
Apollo 11 - 16 July 1969 - Crewed Lunar Landing
Zond 7 - 7 August 1969 - Lunar Flyby and Return to Earth
Cosmos 300 - 23 September 1969 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return?
Cosmos 305 - 22 October 1969 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return?
Apollo 12 - 14 November 1969 - Crewed Lunar Landing
1970
Luna 1970A - 6 February 1970 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return? (Launch Failure)
Luna 1970B - 19 February 1970 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter? (Launch Failure)
Apollo 13 - 11 April 1970 - Crewed Lunar Mission (Landing Aborted)
Venera 7 - 17 August 1970 - Venus Lander
Cosmos 359 - 22 August 1970 - Attempted Venus Probe
Luna 16 - 12 September 1970 - Lunar Sample Return
Zond 8 - 20 October 1970 - Lunar Flyby and Return to Earth
Luna 17/Lunokhod 1 - 10 November 1970 - Lunar Rover
1971
Apollo 14 - 31 January 1971 - Crewed Lunar Landing
Mariner 8 - 9 May 1971 - Attempted Mars Flyby (Launch Failure)
Cosmos 419 - 10 May 1971 - Attempted Mars Orbiter/Lander
Mars 2 - 19 May 1971 - Mars Orbiter/ Attempted Lander
Mars 3 - 28 May 1971 - Mars Orbiter/ Lander
Mariner 9 - 30 May 1971 - Mars Orbiter
Apollo 15 - 26 July 1971 - Crewed Lunar Landing
Luna 18 - 2 September 1971 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return
Luna 19 - 28 September 1971 - Lunar Orbiter
1972
Luna 20 - 14 February 1972 - Lunar Sample Return
Pioneer 10 - 3 March 1972 - Jupiter Flyby
Venera 8 - 27 March 1972 - Venus Probe
Cosmos 482 - 31 March 1972 - Attempted Venus Probe
Apollo 16 - 16 April 1972 - Crewed Lunar Landing
Soyuz L3 - 23 November 1972 - Attempted Lunar Orbiter (Launch Failure)
Apollo 17 - 7 December 1972 - Crewed Lunar Landing
1973
Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 - 8 January 1973 - Lunar Rover
Pioneer 11 - 5 April 1973 - Jupiter/Saturn Flyby
Skylab - 14 May 1973 - Crewed Earth Orbiter
Explorer 49 (RAE-B) - 10 June 1973 - Lunar Orbiter/Radio Astronomy
Mars 4 - 21 July 1973 - Mars Flyby (Attempted Mars Orbiter)
Mars 5 - 25 July 1973 - Mars Orbiter
Mars 6 - 5 August 1973 - Mars Lander (Contact Lost)
Mars 7 - 9 August 1973 - Mars Flyby (Attempted Mars Lander)
Mariner 10 - 4 November 1973 - Venus/Mercury Flybys
1974
Luna 22 - 2 June 1974 - Lunar Orbiter
Luna 23 - 28 October 1974 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return
1975
Venera 9 - 8 June 1975 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
Venera 10 - 14 June 1975 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
Viking 1 - 20 August 1975 - Mars Orbiter and Lander
Viking 2 - 9 September 1975 - Mars Orbiter and Lander
Luna 1975A - 16 October 1975 - Attempted Lunar Sample Return?
1976
Luna 24 - 9 August 1976 - Lunar Sample Return
1977
Voyager 2 - 20 August 1977 - Jupiter/Saturn/Uranus/Neptune Flyby
Voyager 1 - 5 September 1977 - Jupiter/Saturn Flyby
1978
Pioneer Venus 1 - 20 May 1978 - Venus Orbiter
Pioneer Venus 2 - 8 August 1978 - Venus Probes
ISEE-3/ICE - 12 August 1978 - Comet Giacobini-Zinner and Halley Flybys
Venera 11 - 9 September 1978 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
Venera 12 - 14 September 1978 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
1979
1980
1981
Venera 13 - 30 October 1981 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
Venera 14 - 4 November 1981 - Venus Orbiter and Lander
1982
1983
Venera 15 - 2 June 1983 - Venus Orbiter
Venera 16 - 7 June 1983 - Venus Orbiter
1984
Vega 1 - 15 December 1984 - Venus Lander and Balloon/Comet Halley Flyby
Vega 2 - 21 December 1984 - Venus Lander and Balloon/Comet Halley Flyby
1985
Sakigake - 7 January 1985 - Comet Halley Flyby
Giotto - 2 July 1985 - Comet Halley Flyby
Suisei (Planet-A) - 18 August 1985 - Comet Halley Flyby
1986
1987
1988
Phobos 1 - 7 July 1988 - Attempted Mars Orbiter/Phobos Landers
Phobos 2 - 12 July 1988 - Mars Orbiter/Attempted Phobos Landers
1989
Magellan - 4 May 1989 - Venus Orbiter
Galileo - 18 October 1989 - Jupiter Orbiter and Probe
1990
Hiten - 24 January 1990 - Lunar Flyby and Orbiter
Hubble Space Telescope - 25 April 1990 - Earth Orbiting Observatory
Ulysses - 06 October 1990 - Jupiter Flyby and Solar Polar Orbiter
1991
1992
Mars Observer - 25 September 1992 - Attempted Mars Orbiter (Contact Lost)
1993
1994
Clementine - 25 January 1994 - Lunar Orbiter/Attempted Asteroid Flyby
1995
1996
NEAR - 17 February 1996 - Asteroid Eros Orbiter
Mars Global Surveyor - 07 November 1996 - Mars Orbiter
Mars 96 - 16 November 1996 - Attempted Mars Orbiter/Landers
Mars Pathfinder - 04 December 1996 - Mars Lander and Rover
1997
Cassini - 15 October 1997 - Saturn Orbiter
Huygens - 15 October 1997 - Titan Probe
AsiaSat 3/HGS-1 - 24 December 1997 - Lunar Flyby
1998
Lunar Prospector - 7 January 1998 - Lunar Orbiter
Nozomi (Planet-B) - 3 July 1998 - Mars Orbiter
Deep Space 1 (DS1) - 24 October 1998 - Asteroid and Comet Flyby
Mars Climate Orbiter - 11 December 1998 - Attempted Mars Orbiter
1999
Mars Polar Lander - 3 January 1999 - Attempted Mars Lander
Deep Space 2 (DS2) - 3 January 1999 - Attempted Mars Penetrators
Stardust - 7 February 1999 - Comet Coma Sample Return
2000
2001
2001 Mars Odyssey - 7 April 2001 - Mars Orbiter
Genesis - 8 August 2001 - Solar Wind Sample Return
2002
CONTOUR - 3 July 2002 - Fly-by of three Comet Nuclei
2003
Hayabusa (Muses-C) - 9 May 2003 - Asteroid Orbiter and Sample Return
Mars Express - 2 June 2003 - Mars Orbiter and Lander
Spirit (MER-A) - 10 June 2003 - Mars Rover
Opportunity (MER-B) - 8 July 2003 - Mars Rover
SMART 1 - September 2003 - Lunar Orbiter
2004
Rosetta - 2 March 2004 - Comet Orbiter and Lander
MESSENGER - 3 August 2004 - Mercury Orbiter
2005
Deep Impact - 12 January 2005 - Comet Rendezvous and Impact
Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter - 12 August 2005 - Mars Orbiter
Venus Express - 09 November 2005 - ESA Venus Orbiter
2006
New Horizons - 19 January 2006 - Pluto/Charon and Kuiper Belt Flyby
2007
Phoenix - 04 August 2007 - Small Mars Scout Lander
Kaguya (SELENE) - 14 September 2007 - Lunar Orbiter
Dawn - 27 September 2007 - Asteroid Ceres and Vesta Orbiter
Chang'e 1 - 24 October 2007 - CAST (China) Lunar Orbiter
Lunar-A - Cancelled - Lunar Orbiter and Penetrators
2008
Chandrayaan-1 - 22 October 2008 - ISRO (India) Lunar Orbiter
2009
Kepler - 7 March 2009 - Extrasolar Terrestrial Planet Detection Mission
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - 18 June 2009 - Lunar Orbiter
LCROSS - 18 June 2009 - Lunar Impactor
2010
Akatsuki/Planet-C - 20 May 2010 - ISAS Venus Orbiter
Chang'e 2 - 1 October 2010 - CAST (China) Lunar Orbiter
2011
Juno - 5 August 2011 - Jupiter Orbiter
GRAIL - 10 September 2011 - Lunar Orbiter
Phobos-Grunt - 08 November 2011 - Attempted Martian Moon Phobos Lander
Yinghuo-1 - 08 November 2011 - Attempted Mars Orbiter
Mars Science Laboratory - 26 November 2011 - Mars Rover
2012
2013
LADEE - 06 September 2013 - Lunar Orbiter
Mangalyaan - 05 November 2013 - ISRO (India) Mars Orbiter
MAVEN - 18 November 2013 - Mars Scout Mission Orbiter
Chang'e 3 - 01 December 2013 - Lunar Lander and Rover
2014
Chang'e 5 Test Vehicle - 23 October 2014 - Lunar Flyby and Return
Hayabusa 2 - 3 December 2014 - JAXA Asteroid Sample Return
PROCYON - 3 December 2014 - JAXA (Japan) Asteroid Flyby Mission
2015
2016
ExoMars 2016 - 14 March 2016 - ESA Mars Orbiter and Lander
OSIRIS-REx - 8 September 2016 - Sample Return Mission to Asteroid Bennu
2017
2018
InSight - 5 May 2018 - Mars Lander
Queqiao - 20 May 2018 - CNSA (China) Lunar Relay Satellite
Parker Solar Probe - 12 August 2018 - Solar Orbiter - Venus Flybys
BepiColombo - 19 October 2018 - ESA and JAXA Mercury Orbiters
Chang'e 4 - 7 December 2018 - CNSA (China) Lunar Farside Lander and Rover
2019
Beresheet - 22 February 2019 - SpaceIL and IAI (Israel) Lunar Lander
Chandrayaan 2 - 22 July 2019 - ISRO (India) Moon Orbiter, Lander, and Rover
2020
Solar Orbiter - 9/10 February 2020 - ESA solar orbiting mission
Hope - 19 July 2020 - United Arab Emirates Mars Orbiter
Tianwen 1 - 23 July 2020 - CNSA (China) Mars Orbiter and Rover
Mars 2020 - 30 July 2020 - Mars Rover and Rotorcraft
Chang'e 5 - 23 November 2020 - CNSA (China) Lunar Sample Return Mission
2021
Q-PACE - 17 January 2021 - Microgravity Particle Collision Study CubeSat
CAPSTONE - Mid to Late 2021 - Lunar Navigation Test Orbiter
Peregrine Mission 1 - Mid to Late 2021 - Lunar Lander
Luna 25 - 1 October 2021 - Russian Lunar Lander
IM-1 - 11 October 2021 - Lunar Lander
Lucy - 16 October 2021 - Trojan Asteroid Flybys
James Webb Space Telescope - 31 October 2021 - L2 Orbiting Infrared Observatory
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) - 24 November 2021 - Asteroid Dimorphos Impactor
LunaH-Map - Late 2021 - Lunar Orbiting CubeSat
Lunar Flashlight - Late 2021 - Lunar Orbiting CubeSat
Lunar Ice Cube - Late 2021 - Lunar Orbiting CubeSat
NEA Scout - Late 2021 - Asteroid Flyby CubeSat
Lunar InfraRed imaging (LunIR) - Late 2021 - Lunar Flyby and Technology Test CubeSat
Cislunar Explorers - Late 2021 - Lunar Technology Test CubeSats
OMOTENASHI - Late 2021 - JAXA (Japan) Lunar Lander CubeSat
EQUULEUS - Late 2021 - JAXA (Japan) L2 Orbit Lunar CubeSat
2022
SLIM - January 2022 - JAXA (Japan) Lunar Lander
JUpiter ICy moons Explorer (JUICE) - June 2022 - ESA Ganymede-Callisto-Europa multiple flyby mission
Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter - 1 August 2022 - KARI (South Korea) Lunar Orbiter
Psyche - August 2022 - Main Belt Asteroid Orbiter
Janus - August 2022 - Twin Smallsat Mission to Two Binary Asteroids
ExoMars 2022 - August-October 2022 - ESA Mars Rover and Russian Surface Platform
EscaPADE - TBD - Dual Mars Orbiting Spacecraft
XL-1 Lander - December 2022 - Lunar Lander
Prime 1 - December 2022 - Lunar Lander
2023
VIPER - Late 2023 - Lunar South Pole Rover
Chang'e 6 - 2023-2024 - CNSA (China) Lunar Sample Return Mission
Europa Clipper - 2023-2025 - Jupiter Orbiter - Multiple Europa Flybys
2024 on
Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) - September 2024 - JAXA (Japan) Phobos Sample Return Mission
Lunar Trailblazer - Fall 2024 - Lunar Orbiting Small Satellite
Hera - 2024 - ESA mission to asteroids Didymos and Dimorphos
Dragonfly - 2026 - Quadcopter Mission to Titan
Chang'e 7 - TBD - CNSA (China) Lunar Survey Mission
Chang'e 8 - TBD - CNSA (China) Lunar Technology Test

Other Missions


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Discovery of Venus

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Venus is one of the planets visible with the unaided eye. Because it has always been easy to see, it’s impossible to say who discovered Venus. In fact, after the Moon and the Sun, Venus is the brightest object in the sky – it’s likely ancient people thousands of years ago knew about it.

You can’t really talk about the discovery of Venus, but historians do know when observations of Venus were first written down. In fact, one of the oldest surviving astronomical documents is a Babylonian text that talks about Venus in 1600 BC. It contains a 21-year record of Venus’ appearances. Venus played a part in the mythology of many ancient peoples, including the Mayans and the Greeks.

The first person to point a telescope at Venus was Galileo Galilei in 1610. Even with his crude telescope, Galileo realized that Venus goes through phases like the Moon. These observations helped support the Copernican view that the planets orbited the Sun, and not the Earth as previously believed.

Astronomers predicted that Venus would transit across the surface of the Sun. The first time this was observed was on December 4, 1639, and later transits helped astronomers discover that Venus has an atmosphere, and helped calculate the distance from the Earth to the Sun with great accuracy. The last transit of Venus happened in 2004, and the next one will happen in 2012.

Although the surface of Venus is obscured by thick clouds, radar signals were bounced of the surface of the planet in 1961. This allowed astronomers to calculate its radius accurately, and measure its speed of rotation. They also discovered that its axis of rotation is almost zero.

The first spacecraft to actually visit Venus was NASA’s Mariner 2, which flew past Venus in 1962. More recently, NASA’s Magellan spacecraft visited Venus and extensively mapped it surface with radar. ESA’s Venus Express arrived at Venus in May, 2006.

You might be surprised to know that Russian spacecraft have actually landed on the surface of Venus. Although there were several failed attempts, the first spacecraft to actually land on the surface of Venus and survive was Venera 7 although, it was only able to transmit for about 35 minutes.

So, it’s hard to say who actually discovered Venus. The first caveman who stepped outside in the early evening would have noticed bright Venus. But since the discovery of the telescope, and the beginning of the space age, scientists have really been able to discover Venus.

Here are articles about two planets in the Solar System that were actually discovered in recent times. Here’s an article about the discovery of Uranus, and here’s an article about the discovery of Neptune.

We have also recorded a whole episode of Astronomy Cast that’s just about planet Venus. Listen to it here, Episode 50: Venus.


Venus of Dolni Vestonice (26,000 - 24,000 BCE)

(1) To see how the ceramic Venus of Dolni Vestonice fits into the evolution
and development of ancient sculpture, see: Prehistoric Art Timeline.

(2) For the world's oldest example of ceramic pottery,
see: Xianrendong Cave Pottery (c.18,000 BCE).

(3) For another important example of Aurignacian art from Central Europe, please see: Coliboaia Cave Art (30,000 BCE).

ORIGINS OF VISUAL ART
For more details of early Stone Age
works, see: Oldest Stone Age Art.

The Czech prehistoric sculpture known as the Dolni Vestonice (Vestonicka Venuse) is the oldest known work of terracotta sculpture in the world. Belonging to the genre of Venus figurines carved predominantly during the era of Gravettian art, this astounding item of prehistoric art was found at a Stone Age settlement in the Moravian basin south of Brno, in the Czech Republic. Like the famous Venus of Willendorf (c.25,000 BCE), the Venus of Dolni Vestonice now resides in the Vienna Natural History Museum. Although recently exhibited in the Mammoth Hunters Exhibition (2007) at the National Museum in Prague, and at the Prehistoric Art in Central Europe exhibition in Brno, this exquisite example of mobiliary art is rarely displayed in public, and whenever it leaves Vienna, it is usually accompanied by an armed escort.

Location and Discovery

The Venus of Dolni Vestonice was found in two pieces in late July 1925, buried in a layer of ash at a paleolithic encampment in Moravia, formerly a region of Czechoslovakia. At the time of the discovery, the site had been been under close archeological investigation for nearly a year under the direction of Karel Absolon. Since then, further extensive digs have unearthed numerous items of ceramic art dating back to Paleolithic culture, including more than 700 animal figurines, all fired in the primitive kilns at Dolni Vestonice. Other Gravettian sites in the vicinity have yielded thousands more terracotta figurines and clay balls, although there are no ancient rock shelters with cave art in the district. In 1986, the skeletons of two young men and a woman, marked by ritualistic injuries and annointments, were excavated from a shallow burial pit at Dolni Vestonice, underlining the ceremonial significance of the site. The next example of European ceramic art after the cache at Dolni Vestonice, is the Vela Spila Pottery (15,500 BCE) from Croatia, discovered in 2006 in a cave on Korcula Island, off the coast of Croatia.

Description and Characteristics

Measuring 4.4 inches in height and 1.7 inches in width, (111 mm x 43 mm) the Venus of Dolni Vestonice is made from local clay mixed with powdered bone and fired in an earthen oven at a relatively low temperature about 1300 F, or 700 C. Her characteristics are consistent with those found in most other ivory or stone Venus figurines from the same period. For instance, she has a featureless face, devoid of any detail, enormous pendulous breasts, and wide hips and buttocks. An uneven crack runs along her right hip, while there are four holes in the top of her head, possibly fixture points for herbs or flowers. In 2004, a scan of the figurine's surface revealed the fingerprint of a child aged 7-15 years, although he/she is not thought to have been the ceramicist involved.

For more about the chronology of clay-fired ceramics (sculpture and pots), see: Pottery Timeline (26,000 BCE - 1900). The oldest unbroken tradition of ceramic-making is in East Asia, where the four oldest finds include: the Xianrendong Cave Pottery (18,000 BCE) in Jiangxi, Yuchanyan Cave Pottery (c.16,000 BCE) in Hunan province, and Amur River Pottery (14,300 BCE) from Russia's Far East. This Paleolithic tradition spread across the Sea of Japan to influence early Jomon Pottery throughout the Japanese archipelago.

The Dolni Vestonice venus is the earliest art ever created using fired clay. By comparison, the earliest ceramic pottery - made during the Japanese Jomon culture - has been carbon-dated to between 14,540 and 13,320 BCE. Ancient pottery from the Mediterranean area did not appear until the Neolithic Stone Age (c.7,000 - 3,500 BCE), while the Chinese Terracotta Army was sculpted at late as 230 BCE, during the era of Qin Dynasty art (221-206 BCE). She is also among the earliest depictions of a female figure, preceded only by the likes of the Swabian Venus of Hohle Fels (38,000-33,000 BCE) and the Austrian Venus of Galgenberg (c.30,000 BCE).

Other Stone Age Venus Figurines

Small portable female statuettes, known as "Venuses", have been excavated by archeologists and paleontologists across Europe, from the Pyrenees to Siberia. Carved from mammoth ivory tusks, reindeer antlers or soft rocks such as limestone, steatite, serpentine and jet, most were created during the Gravettian tool culture, although a handful were produced during the earlier period of Aurignacian art (40,000-26,000 BCE). Other famous venus figurines not cited above include the French Venus of Monpazier (c.25,000 BCE), the Italian Venus of Savignano (c.24,000), the Slovakian Venus of Moravany (c.24,000-22,000), the French bas-relief Venus of Laussel (c.23,000-20,000), the French Venus of Brassempouy (c.23,000), the French Venus of Lespugue (c.23,000), the Russian figurines known as the Venus of Kostenky (c.22,000), the Venus of Gagarino (c.20,000), the Avdeevo Venuses (c.20,000), the Zaraysk Venuses (c.20,000), the Mal'ta Venuses (c.20,000) and the unique Venus of Eliseevichi (14,000 BCE), from Bryansk. In contrast, neither of the two Middle Paleolithic effigies - namely the Venus of Berekhat Ram (230,000-700,000) and the Venus of Tan-Tan (200,000-500,000) - belong to the category of Upper Paleolithic venuses which only begins about 40,000 BCE.

• For more about prehistoric artifacts, see: Stone Age Art.
• For information about prehistoric artworks, see: Homepage.


Spacecraft exploration

The greatest advances in the study of Venus were achieved through the use of robotic spacecraft. The first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of another planet and return data was the U.S. Mariner 2 in its flyby of Venus in 1962. Since then, Venus has been the target of more than 20 spacecraft missions.

Successful early Venus missions undertaken by the United States involved Mariner 2, Mariner 5 (1967), and Mariner 10 (1974). Each spacecraft made a single close flyby, providing successively improved scientific data in accord with concurrent advances in spacecraft and instrument technology. After visiting Venus, Mariner 10 went on to a successful series of flybys of Mercury. In 1978 the United States launched the Pioneer Venus mission, comprising two complementary spacecraft. The Orbiter went into orbit around the planet, while the Multiprobe released four entry probes—one large probe and three smaller ones—that were targeted to widely separated points in the Venusian atmosphere to collect data on atmospheric structure and composition. The three small probes were called the North probe, which entered the atmosphere at about 60° N latitude the Night probe, which entered on the nightside and the Day probe, which entered on the dayside and actually survived for an hour after impact. The Orbiter carried 17 scientific instruments, most of them focused on study of the planet’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and interaction with the solar wind. Its radar altimeter provided the first high-quality map of Venus’s surface topography. Pioneer Venus Orbiter was one of the longest-lived planetary spacecraft, returning data for more than 14 years.

Venus was also a major target of the Soviet Union’s planetary exploration program during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, which achieved several spectacular successes. After an early sequence of failed missions, in 1967 Soviet scientists launched Venera 4, comprising a flyby spacecraft as well as a probe that entered the planet’s atmosphere. Highlights of subsequent missions included the first successful soft landing on another planet (Venera 7 in 1970), the first images returned from the surface of another planet (Venera 9 and 10 landers in 1975), and the first spacecraft placed in orbit around Venus (Venera 9 and 10 orbiters).

In terms of the advances they provided in the global understanding of Venus, the most important Soviet missions were Veneras 15 and 16 in 1983. The twin orbiters carried the first radar systems flown to another planet that were capable of producing high-quality images of the surface. They produced a map of the northern quarter of Venus with a resolution of 1–2 km (0.6–1.2 miles), and many types of geologic features now known to exist on the planet were either discovered or first observed in detail in the Venera 15 and 16 data. Late the following year the Soviet Union launched two more spacecraft to Venus, Vegas 1 and 2. These delivered Venera-style landers and dropped off two balloons in the Venusian atmosphere, each of which survived for about two days and transmitted data from their float altitudes in the middle cloud layer. The Vega spacecraft themselves continued past Venus to conduct successful flybys of Halley’s Comet in 1986.

In 1990, on its way to Jupiter, the U.S. Galileo spacecraft flew by Venus. Among its more notable observations were images at near-infrared wavelengths that viewed deep into the atmosphere and showed the highly variable opacity of the main cloud deck.

The most ambitious mission yet to Venus, the U.S. Magellan spacecraft, was launched in 1989 and the next year entered orbit around the planet, where it conducted observations until late 1994. Magellan carried a radar system capable of producing images with a resolution better than 100 metres (330 feet). Because the orbit was nearly polar, the spacecraft was able to view essentially all latitudes on the planet. On each orbit the radar system obtained an image strip about 20 km (12 miles) wide and typically more than 16,000 km (almost 10,000 miles) long, extending nearly from pole to pole. The image strips were assembled into mosaics, and high-quality radar images of about 98 percent of the planet were ultimately produced. Magellan also carried a radar altimeter system that measured the planet’s surface topography as well as some properties of its surface materials. After the main radar objectives of the mission were completed, the spacecraft’s orbit was modified slightly so that it passed repeatedly through the upper fringes of the Venusian atmosphere. The resulting drag on the spacecraft gradually removed energy from its orbit, turning an initially elliptical orbit into a low, circular one. This procedure, known as aerobraking, has since been used on other planetary missions to conserve large amounts of fuel by reducing the use of thrusters for orbital reshaping. From its new circular orbit, the Magellan spacecraft was able to make the first detailed map of Venus’s gravitational field.

The U.S. Cassini-Huygens spacecraft flew by Venus twice, in 1998 and 1999, on the way to its primary target, Saturn. During its brief passages near Venus, Cassini failed to corroborate signs of the existence of lightning in the planet’s atmosphere that had been observed by previous spacecraft. This suggested to some scientists that lightning on Venus is either rare or different from the lightning that occurs on Earth.

The European Space Agency’s Venus Express, which was launched in 2005, entered into orbit around Venus the following year, becoming the first European spacecraft to visit the planet. Venus Express carried a camera, a visible-light and infrared imaging spectrometer, and other instruments to study Venus’s magnetic field, plasma environment, atmosphere, and surface for a planned mission of more than two Venusian years. Among its early accomplishments was the return of the first images of cloud structures over the planet’s south pole. The mission ended in January 2015.

The Japanese mission Akatsuki was launched in May 2010 and planned to enter Venus’s orbit that December. However, orbital insertion failed, so the probe orbited the Sun until it made another, successful attempt at circling Venus in December 2015. Akatsuki was Japan’s first successful mission to another planet. It carried five cameras, three taking images in infrared, one in ultraviolet, and one in visible light, to study different depths in Venus’s atmosphere.

NASA has studied a mission concept called High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC), designed to lead to a program for the long-term exploration of Venus. The mission would use crewed airships to explore Venus’s atmosphere at an altitude of 50 km, where the pressure and temperature are like those of Earth.


A History of Dionaea muscipula

Dionaea muscipula , more commonly known as the Venus flytrap, did not originate as the carnivorous beast we are all familiar with today. Rather, D. muscipula began as a simple, sticky leafed plant, the sticky leafs acting as a fly paper of sorts. Through the course of time, it began to evolve into the far more lethal contraption. Trigger hairs, sweet smelling dew, and teeth, evolved through adaptation over time that Charles Darwin himself was fascinated by. He described the Venus Flytrap as “one of the most wonderful plants in the world.”

An illustration of Dionaea muscupula by Charles Darwin

Having evolved such intricate carnivorous traits, one would think “it must need to feed on insects to survive.” This is a valid thought, as why would a plant produce such mechanisms when not necessary to survive? Would this not just be a massive waste of energy? The fact of the matter is: the Venus flytrap is photosynthetic. It is entirely capable of survival without feeding on insects. This begs the question: why produce the excess anatomy if it is not necessary?

The answer is simple. The Venus flytrap evolved in soil lacking the nutrients necessary for survival. To compensate for the lack of nutrients, this carnivorous plant evolved to access food in a different way, becoming the plant many are fascinated by today. Although the origin of the plant D. muscipula evolved from is unknown, the evolution process is believed to be as follows: it first adapted to move its tentacles and leaves in selected directions in order to maximize the chances of obtaining prey.The speed of which it detected and responded to its prey was then adapted. A selectiveness of which it would open and close upon was then evolved, as to not waste energy on something it may gain no nutrients from. Finally, it evolved the features we are all oh so familiar with today, the carnivorous traps necessary for keeping prey captive .

The adaptations underwent by D. muscipula is an extraordinary work of evolution . It has given us insight of the remarkable capabilities of these organisms and of a possible future of new adaptations yet to come.

“The Mysterious Venus Flytrap.” The Mysterious Venus Flytrap. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016.

Walker, Matt. “BBC – Earth News – Venus Flytrap Origins Uncovered.”BBC News. BBC, 20 July 2009. Web. 23 May 2016.


Space Missions to Venus:

  • Akatsuki 2010: The Venus Climate Orbiter mission (PLANET-C), or “AKATSUKI”, is studying Venus’ atmospheric circulation.
  • Venus Express 2005: The (ESA) European Space Agency’s Venus Express is studying the Venus atmosphere including the surface to the ionosphere.
  • Galileo 1989: The orbiter included ten science instruments as well as an atmospheric probe to study Jupiter, its moons, and the magnetosphere as it orbited.
  • Magellan 1989: Accomplished its mission as the first to ever arrive and map Venus’ entire surface.
  • Vega 2 1984: The sister spacecraft to Vega 1, with an almost identical mission as Vega 1.
  • Vega 1 1984: The most ambitious deep space mission by the Soviets with twin spacecraft designed with redundant mission goals.
  • Venera 16 1983: Soviet twins Venera 15 and 16 orbiters, the mission was to use radar to create a detailed map of the surface of Venus with a resolution of 1-2 km or around 1 mile.
  • Venera 15 1983: Soviet twins Venera 15 and 16 orbiters, the mission was to use radar to create a detailed map of the surface of Venus with a resolution of 1-2 km or around 1 mile.
  • Venera 14 1981: Identical to its twin, Venera 13, the Soviet mission of the spacecraft was carried out as it had three corrections midcourse on its way to Venus.
  • Venera 13 1981: Designed similarly to the previous Soviet twin missions, Venera 13 and 14 were spacecraft to accomplish Venus flybys.
  • Venera 12 1978: Soviet mission with a twin Venera 11, to accomplish a flyby and then a lander to explore the ionosphere, atmosphere, and surface of Venus.

Venus Timeline - History

  • Moons: 0
  • Mass: 82% of Earth
  • Diameter: 7520 miles (12,104 km)
  • Year: 225 Earth days
  • Day: 243 Earth days
  • Average Temperature: 880°F (471°C)
  • Distance from the Sun: 2nd planet from the sun, 67 million miles (108 million km)
  • Type of Planet: Terrestrial (has a hard rocky surface)

Venus can be best described with two words: cloudy and hot. The entire surface of Venus is constantly covered by clouds. These clouds are made up mostly of carbon dioxide which has a greenhouse effect keeping in the Sun's heat like a giant blanket. As a result Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system. It is even hotter than Mercury, which is much closer to the Sun.

Venus is a terrestrial planet like Mercury, Earth, and Mars. This means it has a hard rocky surface. Its geography is somewhat like Earth's geography with mountains, valleys, plateaus, and volcanoes. It is completely dry, however, and has long rivers of molten lava and thousands of volcanoes. There are over 100 giant volcanoes on Venus that are each 100km or more across.


From left to right: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.
Source: NASA.

How does Venus compare to Earth?

Venus is very similar to Earth in size, mass, and gravity. It is sometimes called Earth's sister planet. Of course, Venus' dense atmosphere and intense heat makes Venus very different in many ways. Water, an essential part of Earth, isn't found on Venus.


Magellan spacecraft over Venus
Source: NASA.

How do we know about Venus?

Since Venus is so easily seen without a telescope there is no way to know who might have first noticed the planet. Some ancient civilizations thought it was two planets or bright stars: a "morning star" and an "evening star". In the 6th century BC, a Greek mathematician named Pythagoras noted that it was the same planet. It was Galileo in the 1600's who figured out that Venus orbited the sun.

Since the space age began there have been many probes and spacecraft sent to Venus. Some spacecraft have even landed on Venus and have sent us back information on what the surface of Venus is like under the clouds. The first spacecraft to land on the surface was Venera 7, a Russian ship. Later, from 1989 to 1994, the Magellan Probe used radar to map Venus' surface in great detail.

Since Venus is inside the Earth's orbit, the brightness of the Sun makes it difficult to see from the Earth during the day. However, just after sunset or just before sunrise Venus becomes the brightest object in the sky. It is typically the brightest object in the night sky except for the moon.


Surface of the planet Venus
Source: NASA.


Watch the video: Timeline of Venus (January 2022).