The Surface of Venus as Seen from a Soviet Venera Probe in 1981


The Venera (Venus in Russian) series space probes were developed by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1984 to gather data from Venus. Ten probes in the series successfully landed on the surface of Venus and transmitted data to Earth. Below are some panorama photos from the 1981 mission.

A Reddit user pointed out a couple of interesting things about the images:

  • See that big chunk of semi-circular metal in the middle of the image on the right? That’s a lens cap. It protects the camera from the hellish conditions in Venus’ atmosphere during the decent. Once the probe lands it pops off so the camera can take a few pictures before being destroyed by the weather.
  • The Russians had a really hard time with those caps; they wouldn’t come off. They sent a bunch of probes to Venus that had issues with those lens caps failing to work.
  • See that extended arm-like thing in the image on the right? Once the probe had landed, that arm extended so it touched the ground and got details of what the surface of Venus is composed of.
  • See what it’s sitting on? That’s right. The lens cap. They finally got the lens cap to come off successfully and it fell in exactly the spot where their surface instrument was supposed to go. All that instrument did was send back to Russia information about the composition of their own lens cap.

And to give you an idea of what a Venera probe looked like before being launched into space:

The device “Venus-13” on laboratory tests in 1981. In the center you can see the window of the television camera, closed by a lid.

Sources: Wikipedia, Reddit

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