The Last Images From Doomed Space Probes


Venus, in all its stinking hot glory.
Image: USSR Academy of Sciences / Brown University

Decades before the other missions on this list, the USSR launched a series of probes to Venus. Venera (Russian: “Venus”) was a program that ran from 1961 until 1983. It included orbiters, flyby spacecraft and landers. Four of these landers — Venera 9, 10, 13 and 14 — returned images from the surface of Venus. Venera 13 was the first to return images in color. Venera 13 only lasted two hours on this hostile planet before sending back panoramic images. One of the images was colorized: The landscape appeared yellow because of the dense atmosphere. The image without the atmospheric effects reveals only a dusty and rocky landscape. The rim of a lander and a lens cap are visible in the center. It burned up in 1994 after it plunged into Venus’s atmosphere. Hopefully the agency’s upcoming missions to Venus–


–provide us better views of Venus’ inhospitable terrain.