Visualization
ES2702  Observe how radar was used to map Venus.
  !   Click the images to see the animations.

Thick clouds hide the surface of Venus from our view.

NASA/JPL

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.

NASA/JPL

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.

NASA/JPL

Mapping the Surface

On Earth, scientists merged the long image strips, called "noodles", into larger scenes.

NASA/JPL

Assembling the Pieces

During its four-year mission, Magellan produced detailed maps of over 98% of the surface of Venus.

©1998 Calvin J. Hamilton

A New View of Venus