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Venus Unveiled

Program Overview

The planet Venus has been the subject of observation, speculation, myth, and theory for thousands of years. It has been called our sister planet because of its proximity to Earth and because its size and mass are similar to those of Earth. These similarities have led many scientists to speculate that Venus and Earth share other features. Until the early 1990s, however, many theories about the surface of Venus were based on interpretations of limited scientific information. The thick atmosphere that surrounds Venus prevented astronomers from observing the features of its surface. Space probes sent by the Soviet Union and the United States were destroyed by the extremely hot temperature and high pressure of Venus's atmosphere. No detailed information was available until a successful mission was made by NASA's satellite Magellan. Magellan's data answered many questions, but also indicated that the planet was very different from what scientists had expected. This episode of NOVA examines the theories, data, and debates surrounding this mysterious planet.

Teacher's Guide
Venus Unveiled

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