Magellan probe
Launch vehicle Shuttle-Inertial Upper Stage
Launch date 1989 May


Object(s) Venus

Magellan was a unique mission, the first dedicated U.S. mission to study in detail, using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), the surface of Venus. Because Magellan was intended to be a low cost mission, major components of the spacecraft were obtained from flight spares from other programs including Galileo, Viking, Voyager, Mariner, Skylab, Ulysses, and even the shuttle.

Designed as a follow-up to the mapping portion of the Pioneer Venus mission, Magellan's purpose was to: (1) obtain near-global radar images of Venus' surface with a resolution equivalent to optical imaging of 1 km per line pair; (2) obtain a near-global topographic map with 50 km spatial and 100 m vertical resolution; (3) obtain near-global gravity field data with 700 km resolution and 2--3 milligals (1 gal = 1 cm/s**2) accuracy; and, (4) develop an understanding of the geological structure of the planet, including its density distribution and dynamics.

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