Curious facts about the planet Venus

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News that a compound linked to life was identified in the clouds of Venus stirred the scientific community and ignited the imagination of Earthlings. Check out five curiosities about the planet that you may not know:

The brightest

In June 1889, the painter Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo: “This morning I saw the landscape from my window long before sunrise with nothing but the Morning Star, which looked very large.”

And that was how Venus was included in one of the most famous paintings in art history: Starry Night.

Pentagram in the heavens

The pentagram of Venus (the planet with the most circular orbit in the Solar System) is the planet’s apparent path (in beige) in relation to Earth (in blue). Eight years here correspond to 13 Venusian years.

Russian caps don’t work

The Russian Venera space program had 16 missions. Although they sent valuable information to Earth (such as the composition of the atmosphere and the pressure on the surface of Venus), in terms of image, they left something to be desired for a prosaic reason: the camera cover.

Venera 9 was the first probe to take photographic equipment to Venus. She took (few) pictures with just one camera; the lens cap on the other did not come off. The Venera 10 also sent images from only one camera – as before, the cover of the other lens did not move. The next mission was even worse: the lenses of the two cameras on the Venera 11 remained covered – no photos of either her or Venera 12, which had the same defect.

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The problem seemed to have stayed with the Venera 13 in the past until Venera 14, on command to eject the camera cover, did so directly under one of the instruments – and the result was that the mission command, rather than information about the compressibility of the soil, received data on the compressibility of the lens cap (but the cameras worked).


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