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This spacecraft was one of a pair of deep-space probes developed by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) in a cooperative program with NASA. Experiments were provided by scientists from both FRG and the U.S. NASA supplied the Titan/Centaur launch vehicle. The spacecraft was equipped with two booms and a 32-m electric dipole. The payload consisted of a fluxgate magnetometer; electric and magnetic wave experiments, which covered various bands in the frequency range 6 Hz to 3 MHz; charged particle experiments, which covered various energy ranges starting with solar wind thermal energies and extending to 1 GeV; a zodiacal light experiment; and a micrometeoroid experiment. The purpose of the mission was to make pioneering measurements of the interplanetary medium from the vicinity of the earth's orbit to 0.3 AU. The spacecraft was spin stabilized with the spin axis normal to the ecliptic, and a nominal spin rate of 1 rps. The outer surface was coated with a conductive material, resulting in a plasma-sheath potential of typically 5 eV. Sheath-related coupling caused by the spacecraft antennae produced interference with the wave experiments, but the character of the interference was different from that observed on the Helios-A spacecraft. The spacecraft was capable of being operated at bit rates of from 4096 to 8 bps, variable by factors of two. While the spacecraft was moving to perihelion, it was generally operated from 64 to 256 bps; near 0.3 AU, it was operated at higher bit rates. Because of difficulty encountered with the high-gain antenna, and scheduling conflicts with Viking, relatively fewer high-bit-rate data were obtained from Helios-B than were available from Helios-A. Instrument descriptions written by the experiments are published (some in German, some in English) in the journal Raumfahrtforschung, v. 19, n. 5, 1975.

Image courtesy of the University of Iowa.

Alternate Names

  • 08582
  • Helio-B
  • Helios 2
  • PL-751A

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1976-01-15
Launch Vehicle: Titan IIIE-Centaur
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 371.2 kg

Funding Agencies

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)
  • Bundesministerium fuer Wissenschaftliche Forschung (Federal Republic of Germany)


  • Planetary Science
  • Space Physics
  • Solar Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. H. Kent Hills



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Earl J. MontoyaProgram ManagerNASA Headquarters
Mr. Ants KutzerProject ManagerGes fur Weltraumforschung
Dr. James H. TrainorProject ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Dr. Herbert PorscheProject ScientistDeutsche Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)
Dr. Albert G. OppProgram ScientistNASA Headquarters
Mr. Gilbert W. Ousley, Sr.Project ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Mr. K. KasmeierGeneral ContactBundesministerium fuer Forschung und Technologie

Other Helios Data/Information at NSSDCA

Retrieve interplanetary data from SPDF's anonymous FTP site

Other Sources of Helios Data/Information

Heliocentric Trajectories

Helios at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research

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