The Venera (Венера) series of probes was developed by the USSR between 1961 and 1984 to gather data from Venus. As with some of the USSR's other planetary probes, the later versions were launched in pairs with a second vehicle being launched soon (a week or two) after the first of the pair.
Ten probes from the Venera series successfully landed on Venus and transmitted data from the surface, including the two Vega program (Venera-Halley) probes. In addition, thirteen Venera probes successfully transmitted data from the atmosphere of Venus (along with two Vega balloon probes).
Among the other results, probes of the series became the first man-made devices to enter the atmosphere of another planet (Venera 4 on October 18 1967), to make a soft landing on another planet (Venera 7 on December 15, 1970), to return images from the planetary surface (Venera 9 on June 8, 1975) and to perform high-resolution radar mapping studies of Venus (Venera 15 on June 2, 1983). So, the entire series could be considered as highly successful. Unfortunately, while Venus' orbit is closer to Earth than Mars, its surface conditions were far more extreme, which meant that the probes did not survive more than about an hour.
Venera 3 became the first manmade object to impact another planet's surface as it crash-landed on March 1, 1966. However, as the spacecraft's dataprobes had failed upon atmospheric penetration, no data from within the Venusian boundary was retrieved from the mission.
On October 18 1967, Venera 4 became the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet. While the Soviet Union initially claimed the craft reached the surface intact, re-analysis including atmospheric occultation data from the American Mariner 5 spacecraft that flew by Venus the day after its arrival demonstrated that Venus's surface pressure was 75-100 atmospheres, much higher than its 25 atm hull strength, and the claim was retracted.
Realizing the ships would be crushed before reaching the surface, the Soviets launched Venera 5 and Venera 6 as atmospheric probes. Designed to jettison nearly half their payload prior to entering the planet's atmosphere, these craft recorded 53 and 51 minutes of data, respectively, before their batteries failed.
Venera 7's parachute failed shortly before landing, fortunately very close to the surface. It impacted at and toppled over, but survived. Due to the resultant antenna misalignment, the radio signal was very weak, but was detected (with temperature telemetry) for 23 more minutes before its batteries expired. Thus, it became, on 15 December 1970, the first man-made probe to transmit data from the surface of another planet.
The descent craft/lander contained most of the instrumentation and electronics, and was topped by an antenna. The design was similar to the earlier Venera 9–12 landers. They carried instruments to take scientific measurements of the ground and atmosphere once landed, including cameras, a drill and surface sampler, and a seismometer. They also has instruments to record electric discharges during its descent phase through the Venusian atmosphere.
The two descent craft landed about apart, just east of the eastern extension of an elevated region known as Phoebe Regio. The Venera 13 lander survived for 127 minutes, and the Venera 14 lander for 57 minutes, where the planned design life was only 32 minutes. The descent vehicles transmitted data to the buses, which acted as a data relays as they flew by Venus.
There were many scientific findings about Venus from the data retrieved by the Venera probes. For example, after analyzing the radar images returned from Venera 15 and 16, it was concluded that the ridges and grooves on the surface of Venus were the result of tectonic deformations.
The Venera 9 and 10 landers had two cameras each. Only one functioned because the lens covers failed to separate from the second camera on each lander. The design was changed for Venera 11 and 12, but this made the problem worse and all cameras failed on those missions. Venera 13 and 14 were the only landers on which all cameras worked properly; although unfortunately, the lens cap on Venera 14 landed exactly in the way of the soil compression probe.
The external link at the bottom of the page shows all lander imagery.
|Name||Mission||Launch||Results||Orbiter or probe (flyby, atmospheric)||Lander|
|1VA (proto-Venera)||Flyby||February 4, 1961||Failed to leave earth orbit||n/a|
|Venera 1||Flyby||February 12, 1961||Communications lost en route to Venus||n/a|
|Sputnik 19||Atmospheric Probe||August 25, 1962||Escape stage failed; Re-entered three days later||n/a|
|Sputnik 20||Atmospheric Probe||September 1, 1962||Escape stage failed; Re-entered five days later||n/a|
|Sputnik 21||Flyby||September 12, 1962||Third stage exploded; Spacecraft destroyed||n/a|
|Venera 1964A||Flyby||February 19, 1964||Did not reach parking orbit||n/a|
|Venera 1964B||Flyby||March 1, 1964||Did not reach parking orbit||n/a|
|Cosmos 27||Flyby||March 27, 1964||Escape stage failed||n/a|
|Venera 2||Flyby||November 12, 1965||Communications lost just before arrival||n/a|
|Venera 3||Atmospheric Probe||November 16, 1965||Communications lost just before atmospheric entry. This was the first manmade object to land on another planet on March 1966 (crash). Probable landing region: -20º to 20º N, 60º to 80º E.||n/a|
|Cosmos 96||Atmospheric Probe||November 23, 1965||Failed to leave Earth orbit, and reentered the atmosphere. Believed by some researchers to have crashed near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania on December 9, 1965, an event which became known as the "Kecksburg Incident" among UFO researchers. All Soviet spacecraft that never left Earth orbit were customarily renamed "Kosmos" regardless of the craft's intended mission.||n/a|
|Venera 1965A||Flyby||November 26, 1965||Launcher failed||n/a|
|Venera 4||Atmospheric Probe||June 12, 1967||Arrived October 18, 1967 and was the first probe to enter another planet's atmosphere and return data. Although it did not transmit from the surface, this was the first interplanetary broadcast of any probe. Landed somewhere near latitude 19° N, longitude 38° E.||n/a||n/a|
|Cosmos 167||Atmospheric Probe||June 17, 1967||Escape stage failed; Re-entered eight days later||n/a|
|Venera 5||Atmospheric Probe||January 5, 1969||Arrived May 16, 1969 and successfully returned atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure within of the surface. Landed at 3° S, 18° E.||n/a|
|Venera 6||Atmospheric Probe||January 10, 1969||Arrived May 17, 1969 and successfully returned atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure within of the surface. Landed at 5° S, 23° E.||n/a|
|Venera 7||Lander||August 17, 1970||Arrived December 15, 1970, was the first successful landing of a spacecraft on another planet and survived for 23 minutes before succumbing to the heat and pressure. This was the first broadcast from another planet's surface. Landed at 5° S, 351° E.|
|Cosmos 359||Lander||August 22, 1970||Escape stage failed; Ended up in an elliptical Earth orbit|
|Venera 8||Lander||March 27, 1972||Arrived July 22, 1972 and survived for 50 minutes before succumbing to the heat and pressure. Landed within a radius of 10.70° S, 335.25° E.|
|Cosmos 482||Probe||March 31, 1972||Escape stage exploded during Trans-Venus injection; Some pieces re-entered and others remained in Earth orbit||n/a|
|Venera 9||Orbiter and Lander||June 8, 1975||Arrived October 22, 1975, sent back the first (black and white) images of Venus' surface while the lander survived 53 minutes before succumbing to the heat and pressure. Landed within a radius of 31.01° N, 291.64° E.|
|Venera 10||Orbiter and Lander||June 14, 1975||Arrived October 25, 1975, the lander surviving 65 minutes before succumbing to the heat and pressure. Landed within a radius of 15.42° N, 291.51° E.|
|Venera 11||Flyby and Lander||September 9, 1978||Arrived December 25, 1978, the lander survived for 95 minutes; however the imaging systems had failed. Landed at 14° S 299° E.|
|Venera 12||Flyby and Lander||September 14, 1978||Arrived December 21, 1978, the lander surviving for 110 minutes and recorded what is thought to be lightning. Landed at 7° S 294° E.|
|Venera 13||Flyby and Lander||October 30, 1981||Arrived March 1, 1982, returned the first colour images of Venus' surface and discovered leucite basalt in a soil sample using a spectrometer. Landed at 7.5° S, 303° E|
|Venera 14||Flyby and Lander||November 14, 1981||Arrived March 5, 1982, a soil sample revealed tholeiitic basalt (similar to that found on Earth's mid-ocean ridges). Landed at 13.25° S, 310° E.|
|Venera 15||Orbiter||June 2, 1983||Arrived October 10, 1983 and mapped (along with Venera 16) the northern hemisphere down to 30 degrees from North (resolution )||n/a|
|Venera 16||Orbiter||June 7, 1983||Arrived October 14, 1983 and mapped (along with Venera 15) the northern hemisphere down to 30 degrees from North (resolution )||n/a|
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