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Sister Planet
the planet VenusThis week's CSI is of the planet Venus. This novel image comes to us from the Magellan spacecraft, a free-flyer whose primary scientific instrument is something called Synthetic Aperture Radar or SAR. SAR has the ability to look through the clouds that obscure the surface of Venus. Its primary objective was to map the surface of Venus which, for many years, was considered a twin planet of Earth, an imaginary world of swamps, forests and strange creatures lurking beneath the planet's thick blanket of carbon dioxide clouds. Now we know better. The planet surface is hot as heck -- about 900 degrees Fahrenheit -- and the pressure there is about 90 times greater than the Earth's.

Magellan was launched from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1989 and arrived at Venus about 15 months later. Its images have helped planetary scientists reach a better understanding of Venus and lay to rest some of the mysteries of this neighboring planet.

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