Any of a series of unmanned Soviet planetary probes sent to Venus 1965–83. Venera 2 flew to within 25,000 mi (40,000 km) of Venus in 1966; a few days later, Venera 3 crash-landed on its surface, becoming the first spacecraft to strike another planet. Later missions analyzed Venus's atmosphere, made soft landings, detected certain long-lived radioactive isotopes (chiefly uranium and thorium), sent back the first close-up photographs of the planet's surface, and mapped the surface of the northern hemisphere with radar (by Venera 15 and 16, the last two of the series).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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