This global view of the surface of Venus is centered at 180 degrees east longitude. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A synthetic aperture radar instrument, the highly sophisticated imaging radar that will be sent to Venus aboard the Magellan spacecraft, left Los Angeles Monday (April 18) for Denver aboard specially designed truck.

The radar instrument, called SAR, enclosed in 5- feet by three-feet by one-foot black box, was loaded aboard the "air-ride van" at Hughes Aircraft Company's Space and Communications Group for the two day trip. The van has specially buffered shock absorbers to prevent the multi- million dollar instrument from being jostled.

At the Martin Marietta Corp. plant in Denver, the SAR will be mated to the Magellan spacecraft in preparation for thermal vacuum tests.

The instrument, which will be used to map 90 percent of the surface of Venus through its thick cover of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid clouds, will be tested in an environment simulating the day and night conditions of Venus orbit at temperatures ranging from -25 (-13 F) to 65 (149 F).

Martin Marietta is the prime contractor for the Magellan spacecraft, scheduled for launch in April, 1989. Hughes developed the synthetic aperture radar instrument. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Cal., manages the Magellan Project for NASA.

The spacecraft will map the planet for one Venus day, 243 Earth days, during its primary mission at resolution of about 200 meters. Magellan will gather and return to Earth more data than all the other U.S. space missions combined.

News Media Contact