Newly processed global views of Venus showing its rich and varied landscape have been released by scientists on NASA's Magellan mission, which concluded last October after mapping more than 98 percent of the planet with imaging radar.

"These images will form the basis for all future scientific studies of Earth's sister planet, and will provide the necessary maps for all future Venus missions," said Magellan Project Scientist Dr. R. Stephen Saunders of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The images -- mosaics collected from data gathered during Magellan's orbital mission -- were released at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, TX, where a number of scientists gave presentations based on the new imagery database.

The Magellan spacecraft was commanded to plunge into the atmosphere of Venus last Oct. 12 after performing a final aerodynamic experiment. Mission activities officially ended in mid-February of this year, but some science tasks will continue through fiscal year 1996.

Magellan was launched on May 4, 1989, and entered orbit around Venus in August 1990. In addition to its successful radar mapping, the spacecraft also acquired a high-resolution gravity field map of 95 percent of the planet.

Scientists at the conference presented papers on the geology, atmosphere, climate, volcanoes and tectonic processes of Venus based on the vast, new data set.

Full-resolution copies of the new images are available on CD-ROM from the National Space Science Data Center in Greenbelt, MD (telephone (301) 286-6695). Electronic image files are available from JPL's public access computer site, via Internet and World Wide Web at the address, or by anonymous file transfer protocol (ftp) at the address, or by dialup modem to the telephone number (818) 354-1333.

JPL managed the Magellan mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

News Media Contact