Thick clouds hide the surface of Venus
from our view.
The Hidden Surface
From 1990 to 1994, the Magellan spacecraft used Synthetic Aperture Radar to penetrate the clouds and map the surface. Topography is extremely exaggerated here to emphasize the differences in elevation.
Penetrating the Clouds
During each mapping
orbit, Magellan measured and recorded a
long, narrow strip of the surface, then
transmitted the stored data back to Earth.
Mapping the Surface
On Earth, scientists
merged the long image strips, called "noodles",
into larger scenes.
Assembling the Pieces
During its four-year
mission, Magellan produced detailed maps
of over 98% of the surface of Venus.