The Magellan spacecraft was set to conduct the first tests of its synthetic aperture radar system on August 16 after settling into a near-perfect orbit upon its arrival at Venus on August 10. If the tests are successful, Magellan project scientists could see their first images of the planet's surface before the end of August.
“Everything went very well at Venus orbit insertion,” said project scientist Stephen Saunders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We got into a very good orbit.” Magellan went into Venus orbit at 9:46 A.M. Pacific Time, nearly matching the specifications of the target orbit. The target distance of the orbit's closest approach to the surface was 275 km; a distance of 294 km was achieved. The orbit's target period was 3.18 hours; 3.26 hours was achieved.