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Venera 12 Descent Craft



Venera 11 and Venera 12 were identical spacecraft built for the September 1978 Venus launch window. Each spacecraft comprised a descent craft/lander mounted on a flyby bus (not an orbiter as on earlier missions). The descent craft carried instruments designed to study the detailed chemical composition of the atmosphere, the nature of the clouds, the thermal balance of the atmosphere, and the composition and mechanical properties of the surface.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The basic lander design was similar to that of Venera 9 and 10: a spherical body mounted by a series of struts on a toroidal landing platform and topped by a disk aerobrake and a cylindrical tower. The lander carried a panoramic color imaging system. Among the other instruments on board was a gas chromatograph to measure the composition of the Venus atmosphere, instruments to study scattered solar radiation and soil composition, a soil penetrator, temperature, pressure, and wind sensors, an accelerometer, and a device named Groza which was designed to measure atmospheric electrical discharges.

Mission Profile

Venera 12 launched on 14 September 1978 at 02:25:13 UT. After two mid-course corrections on 21 September and 14 December, the descent module separated from its flight platform on 19 December 1978. It entered the nightside Venus atmosphere two days later at 11.2 km/sec. During the descent, it employed aerodynamic braking followed by parachute braking and ending with atmospheric braking. It made a soft landing on the surface at 03:30 UT on 21 December after a descent time of approximately 1 hour. The touchdown speed was 7-8 m/s. The landing site was 7 S, 294 E. Information was transmitted to the flight platform for retransmittal to Earth until it moved out of range 110 minutes after touchdown. The lens cover on the imaging system failed to eject, so no images were returned. The soil sample was not placed correctly into the chamber, so the planned analysis could not be done.

Results reported included evidence of lightning and thunder, sulfur and chlorine in the cloud layers, a high Ar36/Ar40 ratio, and the discovery of carbon monoxide at low altitudes.

More information on the Venera 12 flight platform is available at:

Spacecraft image for illustrative purposes - not necessarily in the public domain.

Alternate Names

  • 12028
  • Venera 12 Lander
  • Venera12DescentCraft

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1978-09-14
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R

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
Dr. V. G. KurtProject ScientistInstitut Kosmicheskich Issledovaniya (IKI)
Mr. Artem IvankovGeneral ContactLavochkin

Selected References

  • Johnson, N. L., Handbook of soviet lunar and planetary exploration - volume 47 science and technology series, Amer. Astronau. Soc. Publ., 1979.
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