Venus is often referred to as Earth’s twin, Earth’s apocalyptic twin. Its size, composition, and density are similar to our home planet, but when it comes to habitability, Venus is not only different from Earth, it’s a living hell. The surface of Venus is covered in a dancing, suffocating veil of toxic and acidic clouds, which are not only hostile to life. The greenhouse effect, in which these clouds trap the sun’s heat and prevent it from escaping into space, gives Venus’ average surface temperature an astonishing 464 degrees Celsius. Not to mention the atmospheric pressure is almost 100 times that on Earth. Scientists have struggled to develop a lander that can withstand such extremely harsh environments, and have actually succeeded in collecting data from the surface of Venus. From 1961 to 1984, the Soviet space program sent a series of 16 probes to Earth’s neighbors. This is how humanity received the eerie image of Venus.
This program was called “Venus” and was definitely a win. This was the first mission to successfully enter the atmosphere of another planet. This was achieved in 1966 with his Venera 3 probe, and in 1970 with his Venera 7 probe, which became the first probe to make a soft landing on another planet. And while none of the eight Venera probes that landed on Earth lasted more than two hours (“Venera 12 was the longest-lived”; it lasted 110 minutes before dying from heat and pressure), The Venera mission was the first time that images and sounds from another planet were “transmitted” to Earth. To date, Venus is also the only program to send images and sound back from the surface of Venus. Of course, the data obtained is a little rough by today’s standards, but that was decades ago and the conditions in which the spacecraft operated were extremely stressful. Below are the first images of Venera 9 and Venera 10 taken in 1975, and Venera 13 taken in 1982.
Interestingly, in these images we can already see a clear difference in image quality between the two time frames. What do these photos show? The researchers then used improved imaging techniques to revisit the nearly 50-year-old data, resulting in some very interesting images of Venus. They show a golden, alien world that looks horrifying, without even a hint of life-destroying temperatures, pressures, or poisons as we know it.
This golden hue is due to sunlight having difficulty penetrating Venus’s clouds and coloring its surface. Image processing performed at Brown University revealed that the rocks and soil on the planet’s surface have a dark gray hue. This is thought to be due to the way the earth’s surface is formed. Venus is dominated by volcanoes, and there may still be active volcanic activity, and the black rocks are thought to be basaltic. Scientists are eager to learn more about Venus because of its similarities to Earth. Explorations of Venus could help us understand how the planet’s evolutionary paths diverge, creating environments either favorable or highly unfavorable for life.