Venera-9 and -10, Twin Missions to Venus

Thirty-five years ago today — June 8, 1975 — the Soviet Union launched the Venera-9 mission to Venus. Venera-9 was the first mission to successfully return an image of the surface of Venus; specifically, the rocky terrain in the immediate vicinity of the lander.

(Photographs of the surface of Venus: top, from Venera-9, and bottom from Venera-10. From

A Proton rocket out of the Baikonur Cosmodrome sent the Venera-9 probe on its way. Its sister ship Venera-10 launched six days later, on June 14th. Each carried an orbiter section and a lander.

The Venera-9 lander descended successfully to the surface on October 22, 1975, and operated for nearly an hour before the heat (485 degrees Celsius) and pressure (90 atmospheres) destroyed it. The Venera-10 lander followed its sister to the surface on October 25, 1975, and landed over 2000 km away from the Venera-9 landing site. Venera-10 operated for over an hour before it, too, succumbed to the harsh Venusian environment.

If only they had found the tropical paradise envisioned by classic science fiction writers, instead of fields of heat-blasted rocks, we might have developed more motivation to get out there and explore….

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