Science
In spite of Venus being Earth's closest neighbor and having observed Venus

Question Description

In spite of Venus being Earth's closest neighbor and having observed Venus through optical telescopes for hundreds of years, why didn't we learn about what surface features it had until the Magellan probe went into orbit around it in 1994? Explain.

Final Answer

Optical telescopes couldn't penetrate the thick, opaque atmosphere of Venus - the Magellan probe instead used radar, allowing surface topography to be seen for the first time. Magellan was not the first craft to map Venus, but was (and still is) the highest-resolution by far.

iainharlow (1041)
UT Austin

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