Science: Unveiling Venus

Nearly as big as the U.S., this plateau is literally out of the world—on Venus. Though the perpetual cloud cover of the earth's nearest planetary neighbor has kept its surface tantalizingly hidden, Venus' veil is being lifted by a gifted robot. The Pioneer-Venus Or biter spacecraft has been circling the planet since December 1978, analyzing its atmosphere and scanning and rescanning its surface with radar. Last week NASA released the first renderings of these extraterrestial data, revealing a dramatic and awesome landscape still in the process of formation. Though 60% of the Venusian topography consists of flat rolling plains,...

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