The Soviet Venera program was a series of space probes marking the first robotic exploration program that took place on another planet. The first Venera probe failed to leave Earth’s atmosphere and in typical Soviet fashion was not revealed to have failed due to their policy of not announcing a failed mission. Venera 1 and 2 went past Venus without the probe actually entering orbit around Venus. Venera 3 landed on Venus on March 1, 1966, but no data was retrieved from the spacecraft as it had not just “landed” but actually crash landed as a result of the devastating Venus atmosphere. What was an interesting part of Venera 3 was that it used solar cells made of Gallium Arsenide, thereby utilizing the greater amount of solar energy on that planet.
Venera 4 successfully measured the atmosphere of Venus and showed that the atmosphere of Venus consisted mainly of Carbon Dioxide. This probe contained a heat shield which could handle temperatures of up to 11,000 degrees Celsius.
Venera 5 successfully returned data and along with Venera six recorded about an hours worth of information on the planet. Venera 7 recorded that the surface temperature of Venus was 475 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately for futurists and science fiction fans Venera 7 confirmed two things that would be hard to hear for this segment of society: there was no chance of liquid water being present on the planet and there was also no way humans could survive on the surface of this planet. Venera 9-14 had various failures with the camera system onboard these spacecrafts until finally with Venera 15 (which reached Venus’s orbit on October 10, 1983) and 16 (which reached Venus’s orbit on October 11, 1983) both had the capability of using surface imaging radar equipment.
It should also be noted that NASA had Mariner 2 study the atmosphere of Venus as well and additionally in 1974 Mariner 10 took UV photographs of Venus’s clouds. Also NASA’s Pioneer Venus Multiprobe entered Venus on December 9, 1978 which returned vital data regarding Venus to a democratic nation.
Although some ancient civilizations believed that Venus was “an illumination of heaven” such as the Babylonian’s, it is clear from these observations that the Venera program discovered that Venus was not a place at all like heaven, in fact humans wouldn’t even survive in the harsh conditions of the planet. A more suitable name for Venus would be “an illumination of hell” coupled with toxic runaway greenhouse gases that could soon be our fate here on Earth if we continue with the rampant and widespread polluting, gutting and destruction of our planet. CO2 emissions are rapidly rising, coupled with government inaction and the developing world bringing more people into the middle class that want what most Hollywood movies show: a big house, regular vacations and most importantly of all multiple cars and SUV’s which constantly add to greenhouse gas emissions. Our capacity of changing to an all electric future cannot happen quickly either, by 2030 Europe and China, which are predicted to be the largest adopters of electric vehicles will only have a mere 23% of cars being electric, compared to 77% being oil powered, if Venus is any indicator of what a hellish future might be then we must all make sure that Earth does not become the next Venus.