The Venera program: When Russia went to Venus
48 years ago, the Russian Venera 5 spacecraft entered the atmosphere of Venus.
On 16 May 1969, the Venera 5 space probe reached Venus. It had set off on its journey four months earlier, as part of the Venera program (Russian for Venus), the long-running series of Soviet missions to the second planet from the Sun.
As the probe approached the Venusian atmosphere, the main spacecraft jettisoned a capsule enclosing the scientific instruments, which opened a parachute and drifted to the surface, transmitting atmospheric data for 53 minutes on the way down.
Over 23 years from 1961 to 1984, 18-odd Venera spacecraft were sent out: 13 successfully transmitted data from the Venusian atmosphere, of which 10 survived to reach the surface and send back information.
Today, the Venera missions offer a window into an often forgotten period of Solar System exploration.