Are you there Venus? It’s me, Earth

Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.

Earth rise over the lunar landscape, (412-DA-11453)
Earth rise over the lunar landscape (412-DA-11453)

Twenty years ago today, NASA dropped by our neighbor Venus to say hello and snap a few pictures. The Magellan probe entered orbit, took a terrestrial map of Venus, and then did something very rude: it crashed into the planet. Not very neighborly.

Still, we gathered plenty of data from that crash (and it’s debatable whether the wreckage of the Magellan even made it through the thick atmosphere), data that was sent back to earth, processed by the folks at NASA, and then distributed to the whole world on a newfangled piece of equipment called the Internet.

It was 1994. AOL was tops, and the sound of dial-up was as common as a telephone ring (an actual telephone ring, not a ringtone).  NASA has since preserved its Magellan website as a snapshot in time, and it’s a hoot. You can view high-resolution images that are smaller than a camera phone snapshot these days  (though it’d be tough to get a camera phone to Venus).

For more on NASA, and resources at the National Archives relating to space exploration, be sure to have a look at the Space Exploration section of our website.

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