With all the recent excitement about Mars many people will be surprised to know that Russia has successfully landed 10 probes, yes 10, on the surface of Venus between 1975 and 1981. All ‘Venera’ probes survived the landing and four of them transmitted pictures back to Earth. That’s an astonishing achievement given a) this was 25 years ago and the Russians didn’t have the benefit of bouncing airbag technology and b) the surface of Venus is hotter than your oven with an atmospheric pressure 90 times greater than that on Earth. Oh, and the atmosphere contains substantial amounts of sulphuric acid and other goodies. The probes themselves survived no more than an hour before being fried, crushed and corroded into oblivion.

Some of the pictures taken by the Venera 9 & 10 probes have been dusted off, reprocessed and re-calibrated. And they are every bit as stunning in their own way as those from Mars. All told this was a terrific achievement for the Russian Space Agency.