Planetary Exploration: Doubleheader on Venus

Right on target, more than four months after leaving the earth, two Russian spacecraft last week plunged into the murky atmosphere of Venus. Both Venus 5 and Venus 6 had apparently stood up well under the rigors of their 217-million-mile trips. Each spacecraft successfully ejected an instrumented capsule that radioed back information while parachuting toward the Venusian surface. At week's end, however, both capsules appeared to have fallen victim to intense Venusian heat before making their landings on the planet's surface.

When the 2,491-lb. Venus 5 was 31,000 miles from Venus, Soviet ground controllers sent a signal that separated the instrument...

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