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This Day in History

World History

Friday, August 10, 1990. :   The Magellan spacecraft arrives at Venus to begin mapping the planet's surface.

     The Magellan spacecraft was named after the sixteenth-century Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. Magellan was the first planetary spacecraft to be launched by a space shuttle when, on 4 May 1989, it was conveyed by the shuttle Atlantis from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle took Magellan into low Earth orbit, where it was released from the shuttle's cargo bay. After its launch, it arrived at Venus over a year later.

The Magellan carried an advanced imaging radar to enable it to map the surface of Venus in detail. Portions of other space projects were salvaged to produce the Magellan spacecraft: its radio dish came from Voyager and the central control system came from the Galileo project. Magellan remained in orbit around Venus for four years before it lost altitude and crashed on the planet's surface in October 1994.

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