On May 20, 1978, NASA launched a spacecraft to Venus. This mission Pioneer – Venus 1 It was named, but as an orbiter Pioneer-12 is also known.
Pioneer – Venus 1
Pioneer-Venus 1 was the first combination of two spacecraft, an orbiter and a probe, which was designed to study the atmosphere of Venus. This probe was the first American spacecraft to orbit Venus. A second spacecraft was sent a few months later and landed five probes on the surface of Venus.
The probe of this spacecraft included 16 scientific instruments, including electric field and gamma ray detectors, ion mass spectrometers, cloud polarization and ultraviolet.
Its manufacturer was an aircraft company named Hughes, and Pioneer-Zohre 1 was designed in the form of a cylindrical surface with its instruments installed at the end of the cylinder. The spacecraft had a solid-fuel rocket engine that provided thrust to enter Venus orbit.
The orbiter was launched by the Atlas Centaur rocket from the Cape Carnival launch site in Florida.
This launch took place in May 1978 and reached Venus about six months later.
The probe mapped the surface of Venus with a radar attached to it and found that Venus is generally flatter than Earth. Although it has a mountain higher than Everest and a gap deeper than the Grand Canyon.
Pioneer-Venus 1 measured the structure of the upper atmosphere and investigated how the solar wind interacts with the ionosphere and its magnetic field. It also detected gamma ray bursts and made ultraviolet observations.
Pioneer also spent some time studying the planet’s atmosphere, investigating how the planet’s ionosphere and magnetic field interact with positively charged particles. Also in February 1987, when Halley’s Comet was not visible from Earth due to its proximity to the Sun, it was observed by this orbiter.
Finally, in October 1992, when Pioneer 12’s propulsion ran out, its orbit began to naturally decline. Then it disintegrated in Venus’ atmosphere and caught fire to end its 14-year mission.