The Magellan spacecraft launches on a mission
to Venus. It is the first planetary spacecraft to be launched from
the Space Shuttle.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union
sent orbiters to Venus that used imaging radar to pierce the veil
of swirling clouds and map the planet's surface. Magellan is a follow-on
to those missions, dramatically improving on their mapping resolution.