Planetary Exploration: Vital Statistics from Venus

When Russia's Venus 4 capsule suddenly fell silent in the thick Venusian atmosphere last October, Soviet scientists assumed that the spacecraft's final readings—a temperature of 520° F. and an atmospheric pressure 15 to 22 times greater than Earth's—described conditions on the planet's surface. Not so, say U.S. Electrical Engineers Arvydas Kliore and Dan Cain. The Venusian at mosphere, they report in the current issue of Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, is much hotter and far more crushing than the Soviets think. On the surface the temperature is actually close to 900° F., the atmospheric pressure a staggering 75 to 100...

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