LOOKING BACK THE SKY AT NIGHT 10 January 1979
On 10 January 1979 The Sky at Night reported on six American and two Russian spacecraft that had recently reached Venus. Our inner neighbour in the Solar System is overwhelmingly hostile, with its dense atmosphere, searing hot surface and clouds of deadly sulphuric acid. The Soviet Union had sent a number of Venera landers since 1970, which sent back pictures of a rock-strewn surface before being destroyed by the heat and atmospheric pressure. NASA had made two successful flybys with Mariner 2 in December 1962 and Mariner 10 in February 1974. Then, in December 1978 NASA’s Pioneer Venus mission arrived, putting a satellite into orbit and firing four probes into the Venusian atmosphere. The Orbiter mapped Venus until crashing into the atmosphere in 1992. Patrick Moore and Dr Garry Hunt discussed the spacecrafts’ findings and pondered future exploration of the planet now dubbed Earth’s evil twin.
Images of Venus taken by Soviet landers Venera 9 and 10 in 1975