MAGELLAN MISSION (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     30th May 2024        

Context: Scientists recently discovered new lava flows on Venus through analysis of archived data from NASA’s Magellan mission, indicating volcanic activity on the planet between 1990 and 1992.

Magellan Mission

  • launched by: NASA in 1989
  • It holds the distinction of being the first spacecraft to capture images of the entire surface of Venus. It also marks the first deep space probe ever launched from a space shuttle. 
  • Objective: To produce detailed images of Venus' surface.
  • Mapping: The Magellan spacecraft, reaching Venus in 1990, achieved the historic feat of creating the first global map of Venus's surface using radar imaging.
  • Surprising Discoveries: The mission unveiled unexpected findings about Venus, hinting at a relatively youthful surface potentially shaped by extensive lava flows from widespread volcanic activity.
  • Other countries Venus Mission: India - Shukrayaan I, USA - VERITAS, European Union – EnVision.


  • About: It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
  • Position in the Solar System: It's the second planet from the Sun and sixth in size and mass, with a brightness second only to the Moon in the night sky.
  • Characteristics:

o Unusual Spin: Unlike most planets, Venus and Uranus spin clockwise on their axes.

o Extreme Heat: Its atmosphere, rich in carbon dioxide, creates a potent greenhouse effect, making Venus the hottest planet in the solar system.

o Long Days: A day on Venus is longer than its year, taking 243 Earth days to rotate once on its axis and 224.7 Earth days to orbit the Sun.

  • Comparison With Earth: Despite being referred to as Earth's twin due to similar size, mass, and density, Venus starkly contrasts with Earth in its scorching temperatures and inhospitable atmosphere.
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