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Space Science Technology

Revitalizing Soviet Image Data From Venus 45

An anonymous reader writes "As everyone looks at Mars, a scientist has produced the best images ever obtained from the surface of a rather different planet - Venus. By using - and reprocessing - data from the Soviet Venera missions he got some really nice gems. To be found at BBC News Online and at Nice images which resemble much that of the current Mars missions can be found here(1) and at here(2). By the way, did you know that Venus was more often targeted by space probes than Mars, including a number of ten (!) successful landers?"
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Revitalizing Soviet Image Data From Venus

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  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:14PM (#7975505) Homepage Journal
    ... and I'm looking forward to seeing the higher-res pictures that he says will be coming. But honestly, the main reason everyone is focusing on Mars right now is because there really doesn't seem to be that much to find on Venus. We know it's an acidic pressure cooker covered with bare rock; the odds of there ever having been any kind of life there that we could detect seem vanishingly small, and we're not going to be living there any time soon either. Mars seems potentially a lot more promising for both exploration and colonization.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Mars may resemble earth more than Venus in some ways...

      But for that reason, I've always been more impressed with landings on Venus than Mars. I'm not sure if that's reasonable, as I don't know much about the engineering of going to Mars or Venus. But it's always seemed odd to me that Venus, which is supposedly more hostile, has all these landers, and Mars, which is supposedly more hospitable, is a "spacecraft graveyard."
      • You can use a parachute to land a craft on Venus, which is much easier and less demanding of the hardware than bouncing it to a stop.
      • Of course, none of those probes lasted for more than two hours once on the surface. I would think getting a probe ON Venus would be relatively easy (as planetary landings go) since the atmosphere is so thick and would act as a brake of some sort (of course, the winds could cause a lot of problems). It's just getting the thing to work long enough to take detailed soil samples, long term weather readings, etc. That way we could continue to work on the surface, instead of relying on a quick, massive work sp
      • me too... probably because those damn venera pictures are the only real glimpse if you don't count the radar maps. more mystery == more allure. at least for me ;)
    • Venus can tell us a whole lot about planets though, and we don't really know that much about them, except for ours, and ... well ... we're still learning a *lot* about this one.

      70's era technology got there. Imagine what 21st century tech could do, if it were done right?

      Venus would be a great place to stash all our radioactive by-products, if only there were a way for us to get it there easier ...
      • 70's era technology got there. Imagine what 21st century tech could do, if it were done right?

        Melt faster. :)
      • if you go through all of the trouble of getting radioactive by-products to space, why not just crash them into the sun? We may find some method of breaking down the greenhouse gasses in Venus' atmosphere and creating a more hospitable environment there. If we have all sorts of radioactive junk lying around, we're just going to have to move it again if we ever want to colonize Venus. Now I know that this won't be for probably several centuries, maybe even more, but we need to consider this things when mak
      • We managed a lot better record of getting things on to Mars in the '70s, using '70s era tech than we have with late 20th and early 21st century tech.
      • Venus would be a great place to stash all our radioactive by-products, if only there were a way for us to get it there easier ...

        If you can get it off the Earth in the first place, it'd be easier to just let it fall into the Sun.

        • Or even easier to send it out of the entire solar system!

          You see, the thing with space is that things don't just "fall in", any more than Earth does. If you reduce orbital speed, the orbit just becomes an ellipse. You have to kill almost all of the orbital speed before you would collide with Sun, and IIRC that speed change is actually *more* than what is needed for exiting the solar system entirely.
    • There doesn't seem to be that much to find on Venus! How about Mars? Let's see... lot's of rocks, red sand and lots of guesses.

      Mars may be interesting because it would be the best inner-system planet to colonize but it's not very likely to happen. Look at what happened with the moon. We went there and haven't been back in nearly 30 years. How would a Mars expedition be any different? Well, we probably wouldn't return 5 times.

      I don't want to discount Mars. Anytime we land there it's an amazing accom
    • I think our chances of finding life are much higher on venus. Between primitive, subterranean archaebacteria like that found on earth, and the possibility of life in the upper atmosphere [], I think Venus would be a very interesting destination. Unfortunately, Bushie will probably cut funding from all these stupid science missions so he can focus on giving his buddies a way to mine the asteroid belt.
    • Having seen the life thriving in boiling hot deep-sea vents and geysers, Venus is as good a place to look for life as any other. It's a chemically rich, vibrant place.

      Only the fact that it is ultimately fatal to our technology keeps us from making the sort of surface progress on Venus that we are doing on Mars. :-/
  • What are the odds of a piece coming off, and having it still be so close? Must have fallen off right at landing.

    Pictures like this give me warm feelings inside though. Images from a place so secluded, people can't get there right now. Almost any place on earth I can make my way to, but there, no matter how hard I try, i can't go there.

    • Re:Whoops (Score:3, Informative)

      I think those are some sort of protective lens covering that was ejected after the lander landed.

      • *squints*

        Okay, yeah, I can see that.

      • Re:Whoops (Score:5, Informative)

        by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:11AM (#7983519) Journal
        One of the venera probes had a "spike" type soil density tester on an arm, which was basically under spring tension and was supposed to flip out from the lander and spear into the soil, to get an idea of how hard the ground was.

        So, lens cap pops off, a few photos are taken, spike gets deployed, a few more photos taken to determine the depth the spike penetrated to....
        except the spike manages to land in the exact same spot the lens cap is sitting. A rather solid lens cap, by the way.

        Apparently there was a lot of cursing in russian at that point :-)

  • By the way, did you know that Venus was more often targeted by space probes than Mars, including a number of ten (!) successful landers?"

    Venus was more often targeted by space probes - because Women are from Venus and Men from Mars.

  • didn't one of the russian venus probes fail dismally because the lensecap melted onto the lense?
    getting images of venus from the view of a melted lensecap is quite clever. must have been a different probe...
    • If that's true, it's hilarious. They made the lenses out of diamond, and used all sorts of high-temperature materials like tungsten to keep the thing from melting, and then they put a plastic lensecap on it and can't take any pictures.
  • ... of how data collected long ago can still be of use. and great images, too - especially if youve seen the original poor quality lander pics. (naturally, that would mean youd have to RTFAs, so never mind)

    i wonder though, why are we collecting such massive amounts of data with every new mission, when obviously it takes too much time to 1. process it 2. interpret it 3. draw conclusions. how much more interesting data has already been collected, but noone looked at it? (or looked at it the "right" way - se

    • Re:excellent example (Score:5, Informative)

      by ghostlibrary ( 450718 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:19PM (#7976347) Homepage Journal
      A lot of astronomy data is looked at by its principal investigator (PI) for something specific. Really, data has 5 'lives'.

      1) The original proposal by the PI, e.g. 'looking for cornonal emissions from DI Peg, an Algol-type system'. Sort of the pass/fail of the research world.

      2) Survey. Someone decides to do a survey study among existing data, e.g. "Light curves from all Algol-type systems".

      3) Unexpected. Someone finds a new thing to look for, sometimes due to better theoretical understanding. "Coronal sources should be iron-enhanced, so let's reanalyze DI Peg, specifically looking for iron lines."

      4) Data-mining. Searching an archive for a given property. "Looking for all sources with X-ray emission above a given threshold... hey, DI Peg matched!"

      5) Grad students. Doing their thesis on a topic, use archival data to support. "Dissertation on coronal systems, using data from DI Peg and others".

      and I think now maybe this adds a new category:

      6) Improved methods. Older data can be reanalyzed using newer methods to extract additional information. Rare: usually data analysis is limited by signal/noise, not tricky algorithms.

      So data is often used beyond its initial acquisition!

      (apologies if I've posted this before)
      • (apologies if I've posted this before)
        you must be new here ;)

        thanks for that interesting post. hope it gets modded accordingly...
        but i'm just a dreamer...

      • How does 6 differ from 3? Seems like much the same: better theoretical understanding. That one is in what the data should show, and one is in the data stream itself doesn't nessicarly mean much. Indeed you often can't get one without the other. (Dl Peg should show iron lines, but one of the critical iron lines was recorded. The existance of iron could be extrapulated from other lines - obvisouly in the case of iron lines you would expect them to be recorded, but there are some things not tested for t

      • Number 6 reminds me of what is being done in the United States now in courts, with lawyers demanding evidence be re-analized with DNA detecting methods for cases that were closed. Interesting things have come out of this.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:05PM (#7976180)
    The engineering requirements [] were absolutely insane - 170g on re-entry, jetisoning parachutes - then falling free for 50 miles through the atmosphere to land without a parachute. And when it gets there:

    Conditions were 90 atm pressure and 455 C (851 F).

    This is also intriguing:

    While never deployed, a seismometer and thermopile battery were developed and tested, capable of operating indefinately on the surface of Venus.

    I'm amazed that "nothing can last long on the surface of venus" is a myth - there seems to be no technical reason that we couldn't have instruments there permanently. This page also talks of electronics capable of surviving the heat - and that the landers interior was cooled by liquid lithium down to 60 degrees C. Then they lost contact only because the *relay* satelites weren't in a permanent orbit - not because the probes failed.

    I'm in awe of the engineering that went into making these probes so robust - and this was before I was even born! NASA needs to think a little more like this if they're not going to have accidents getting to the moon permanently.
    • I agree absolutely. Mars IS boring compared to this. When I saw the story I thought this must be a joke, in fact I didnt know anything had landed on Venus yet.. I thought NASA should head there next.

      Amazing is the fact that they landed 10 (!) landers and 4 of them transmitted data back, a better rate than the Euro-American attempts at Mars. Those pictures are truly an enormous feat and I dont know why I never saw those in history books. Mars is a lot more like Earth, but Venus is something very unknown, ex
  • Venus? (Score:2, Funny)

    by seanmeister ( 156224 )
    But I thought the Venera probe crashed in Wyoming []?
  • by Bitsy Boffin ( 110334 ) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:38PM (#7976603) Homepage
    I'd really like to see Venusian landers operating again. Venus is IMHO a much more interesting place than Mars, if only because we can't properly see it without actually going there. And yet it's so close (relatively speaking). Those few pictures that came from the Venera probes are soo tantalising, you just want to reach through, grab the camera and tilt it up.

    Sure, it might be a very hostile environment, and not being able to get a good look at possible landing sites is a bit of a bugger, but I'm sure if the old Venera peoples were to use thier experience and modern materials & ideas that they could get a lander on the planet with better (and sustainable) capabilities.

    There's no chance of recognisable life on Venus of course, but that doesn't mean there isn't life there at all - bacteria can be quite happy in extreme environments.

    Mars is cool and all, but really.. rock, another rock, bit of red dust, rock, oh look a crater. Been there, done that, move on.
  • It's a conspiracy, I tell you!
  • In Soviet Russia, Venus revitalizes YOUR image!

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor