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This Day in History

World History

Wednesday, October 12, 1994. :   Contact with the Magellan space probe is lost after it completes radar-mapping of the surface of Venus.

     The Magellan spacecraft was launched from Florida on 4 May 1989. On 10 August 1990, Magellan entered into orbit about Venus. During its four years in orbit around the planet, it mapped over 98 percent of the planet's surface and collected high-resolution gravity data of Venus. With the deliberate intention of crash-landing the probe, a final aerobraking experiment was carried out in October 1994, achieved by turning Magellan's solar arrays so that the spacecraft behaved like a propeller. Communications with the probe were lost on 12 October 1994, and the probe burned up in Venus's atmosphere a few days later. The purpose of the crash landing was to collect data on the atmosphere and on how the spacecraft performed as it descended.

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