They say Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. But one could also say that Soviets are from Venus and Americans are from Mars. The Soviets and the Americans divided the solar system between them during those tense decades. How or why the Soviets chose Venus and the Americans Mars seems to be a mystery.
In 1970, after 6 prior missions to orbit Venus, the Soviets made their first attempt at landing on Venus with Venera 7, which ended in failure. In 1975 their third lander, Venera 9 settled onto the surface of Venus. For 53 minutes the 3,400 pound spacecraft took rudimentary imagery and atmospheric measurements, then quickly burned to a crisp. While Venus has a similar gravity to earth, it’s atmosphere is hellish. Earth’s atmosphere is 15 psi, while Venus’s is 1,300. It’s surface temperature is 850 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet the spacecraft functioned as intended. The Soviets deserve respect in that they chose the more hostile planet to explore. Mars is a much easier planet to land and operate a spacecraft upon.
And so the Americans meanwhile sent the Viking landers to Mars. As had become routine by then, ( with the major exception of the moon landings ) the Americans were not first in attempt, but they had fewer failures. The Soviets had already launched 3 missions to Venus by the time they had their first successful landing. The Americans were successful on the first attempt.
Mars is extraordinarily different from Venus. The gravity is a third of Earths, the atmosphere is 0.09 psi, yet the temperatures are recognizable. 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the day but dropping to -150 at night.
These two images are the first from the surface of other planets, and they were taken mere months apart. How did such antagonistic world powers so cleanly divide the universe between them? Did the Soviets choose Venus to claim ownership of the subversive feminist? Did the Americans choose Mars because they wished to claim the warrior god as their idol? While the world lived in terror during the cold war, the competition between the two powers resulted in feats of epic natures, explorations in many respects still set as unbroken milestones.