Venus may be named for the goddess of love, but she’s a savage planet. The surface temperature reaches around 500° C (over 900° F), the atmosphere is as dense as deep ocean and the planet is permanently covered in cloud.
If humans could breathe the sulphur-laden air, it would stink of rotten eggs. We would know little of this without the Mariner 2 spacecraft, which took off from Cape Canaveral today in 1962, and came within 35,000 kilometres (21,700 miles) of Venus on Earth's first interplanetary mission. We are toasting the spacecraft, whose last transmission was received on 3rd January 1963 and remains in heliocentric orbit, with a Cherry Marnier but you may prefer a fruity Venus in Furs or even a Venus Cocktail.
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