Astronomy: Venus Is Dead, & Too Hot

Next week, if all goes well, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will launch Mariner 5, a $30 million spacecraft designed to shoot past Venus at a distance of only 2,000 miles and probe the mysteries of the cloud-shrouded planet during its flyby. Whatever its findings, however, Mariner will hardly be able to top the recent accomplishment of astronomers in a plane flying only 37,000 feet above the earth. Using an ingenious scheme and sophisticated equipment, they determined conclusively that Venus is a bone-dry planet devoid of water—and probably devoid of any...

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