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Venera 13 Descent Craft



Venera 13 and 14 were identical spacecraft built to take advantage of the 1981 Venus launch opportunity. Launched 5 days apart, the objective of the missions was to make in-situ studies of the Venus atmosphere and surface.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The Venera 13 mission consisted of a bus (81-106A) and an attached descent craft (81-106D). The Venera 13 descent craft/lander was a hermetically sealed pressure vessel, which contained most of the instrumentation and electronics, mounted on a ring-shaped landing platform and topped by an aerobraking disc and a cylindrical antenna. The design was similar to the earlier Venera 9-12 landers. Mass of the lander was 760 kg. It carried instruments to take chemical and isotopic measurements, monitor the spectrum of scattered sunlight, and record electric discharges during its descent phase through the Venusian atmosphere. The spacecraft utilized a camera system (with red, green, blue, and clear filters), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, a screw drill and surface sampler, a dynamic penetrometer, an acoustic detector, and a seismometer to conduct investigations on the surface.

Mission Profile

After launch on 30 October 1981 at 06:04 UT and a four month cruise to Venus involving two midcourse corrections (10 November 1981 and 21 February 1982), the descent vehicle separated from the bus and plunged into the Venus atmosphere on 1 March 1982. The parachute was deployed at 63 km altitude. At an altitude of 47 km the parachute was released and simple airbraking was used the rest of the way to the surface. The descent lasted about an hour. Venera 13 landed at 03:57:21 UT at 7.5 S, 303 E, just east of the eastern extension of an elevated region known as Phoebe Regio. The area was composed of bedrock outcrops surrounded by dark, fine-grained soil. After landing an imaging panorama was started and a mechanical drilling arm reached to the surface and obtained a sample, which was deposited in a hermetically sealed chamber, maintained at 30 degrees C and a pressure of about .05 atmospheres. The lander survived for 127 minutes (the planned design life was 32 minutes) in an environment with a temperature of 457 degrees C and a pressure of 89 Earth atmospheres. The descent vehicle transmitted data to the bus, which acted as a data relay as it flew by Venus.

Venera 13 returned the first color images of the surface of Venus, revealing an orange-brown flat bedrock surface covered with loose regolith and small flat thin angular rocks. The composition of the sample determined by the X-ray flourescence spectrometer put it in the class of weakly differentiated melanocratic alkaline gabbroids, similar to terrestrial leucitic basalt with a high potassium content. The acoustic detector (GROZA) returned the sounds of the spacecraft operations and the background light 0.5 m/sec wind.

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

Alternate Names

  • Venera 13 Lander
  • 15599

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1981-10-30
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 760.0 kg

Funding Agency

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


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Artem IvankovGeneral ContactLavochkin

Selected References

Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England, 1996.

Surkov, Yu. A., et al., New data on the composition, structure, and properties of Venus rock obtained by Venera 13 and Venera 14, J. Geophys. Res., 89, 8393-8402, Feb. 1984.

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