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Venera 9 Descent Craft



The Venera 9 descent craft/lander was attached on top of an orbiter at launch. Venera 9 and 10 were a pair of identical spacecraft prepared for the June 1975 launch opportunity. The scientific objectives of the descent craft/lander were to make in-situ measurements in the Venus atmosphere and on the surface. Venera 9 transmitted images of the Venus surface, the first images ever sent back from the surface of another planet.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The descent craft/lander comprised a spherical body mounted by a series of struts on a toroidal landing platform and topped by a disk (the titanium aerobrake) and a cylindrical tower. The full entry probe, which included a 2.4 m aluminum heat shield and held the descent craft, had a mass of 1560 kg. The lander was 2 m high and had a mass of 660 kg. Data transmission would be at 256 bits/sec, through a helical antenna wrapped around the upper cylinder using the orbiter as a communications relay to Earth. It carried a panoramic imaging system mounted 90 cm above the base, a thermometer, barometer, anemometer, mass spectrometer, photometers, nephelometer, gamma-ray spectrometer, radiation densitometer, and accelerometers.

Mission Profile

Venera 9 was launched on 8 June 1975 at 02:38:00 UT on a Proton booster. There were two mid-course corrections en-route to Venus, on 16 June and 15 October. On October 20, 1975, the descent craft was separated from the Orbiter, and landing was made at 05:13 UT on October 22. A system of circulating fluid was used to pre-cool the lander to -10 C and distribute the heat load. This system permitted operation of the spacecraft for at least 53 min after landing. During descent, heat dissipation and deceleration were accomplished sequentially by a protective hemispheric aeroshell heat shield (released at 64 km altitude), three parachutes (jettisoned at 50 km), the disk-shaped drag brake, and a compressible, metal, doughnut-shaped, landing cushion which absorbed the shock of the 7 m/sec impact and held many of the instruments. The landing was at 31.7 N, 291 E, near Beta Regio, about 2,200 km from the Venera 10 landing site. The panoramic imaging system could only take a 180 degree image instead of the planned 360-degree panorama because one of the two covers failed to release. According to Soviet reports, transmission ceased after 53 minutes because the orbiter relay passed out of range of the lander.

Preliminary results indicated: (A) clouds 30-40 km thick with bases at 30-35 km altitude, (B) atmospheric constituents including HCl, HF, Br, and I, (C) surface pressure about 90 (earth) atmospheres, (D) surface temperature 485 deg C, (E) light levels comparable to those at earth midlatitudes on a cloudy summer day, and (F) successful TV photography showing shadows, no apparent dust in the air, and a variety of 30-40 cm rocks which were not eroded.

Images for illustrative purposes - not necessarily in the public domain.

Alternate Names

  • 8411
  • Venera9DescentCraft

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1975-06-08
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 2015 kg

Funding Agency

  • Soviet Academy of Sciences (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England, 1996.
  • Johnson, N. L., Handbook of soviet lunar and planetary exploration - volume 47 science and technology series, Amer. Astronau. Soc. Publ., 1979.

Venera descent module during landing test

Venera 9 Orbiter

Venera Home Page
Venus Home Page
Venera lander images of the surface of Venus - and other Venus images

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