Little Bits of History

Venera 14 is From Venus

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 5, 2014
Venera 14

Venera 14

March 5, 1982: Venera 14 lands. She was part of the Soviet Venera program whose purpose was the exploration of Venus. Venera 13 and 14 were identically built and launched within five days of each other. There was a distinct advantage to launching both vessels in 1981 as the planets were better aligned at that time. Venera 13 was launched on October 30 and on November 4, at 5:31 AM UTC Venera 14 was sent aloft via a Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages rocket.

Venera, which means Venus, had both a cruise stage and a descent lander. The cruise stage flew by the planet and acted as a data relay for the landing portion. After the lander succumbed to the pressures of the planet, the cruise stage continued on to an orbit around the sun. It contained several different measurement instruments and took readings before, during, and after the Venus flyby. Included were a gamma-ray spectrometer, UV grating monochromator, electron and proton spectrometers, gamma-ray burst detectors, solar wind plasma detectors, and two-frequency transmitters.

The landing vessel was hermetically sealed under pressure. Most of the instrumentation and electronics were mounted on a ring-shaped landing platform which was topped by an antenna. The design had to withstand the inhospitable planetary surface. Venus is smaller than Earth and the atmospheric pressure is 92 times that of Earth and mostly composed of carbon dioxide. Even less friendly is the temperature which measures at a mean of 863⁰ F. It is the hottest planet in the Solar System. Holding in the heat is an opaque layer of reflective sulfuric acid clouds which makes it impossible for the surface to be viewed from space using only visible light.

Despite these challenges, Venera made landfall and was able to carry out the experiments as planned. A parachute deployed after the craft reached the atmosphere and detached about 30 miles above the ground. Simple airbraking was used to continue to lower the vehicle to the ground. It landed about 600 miles southwest of 13′s landing site. The only mishap was the lens cap to the camera fell in the exact place where a probe was scheduled to measure a soil sample and it hit the lens cap instead. The planetary mission was expected to last 32 minutes before the pressure and heat damaged the ship. Instead, it was able to continue to gather data and send it back to Earth for 57 minutes. With newer technology available, the old pictures have been processed using a more accurate system and giving us even better pictures than could have been expected so many decades before.

Venus favors the bold. – Ovid

The Venus transit is not a spectacle the way a total solar eclipse is a spectacle. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

I don’t think it is an easy thing to write and expect to be commercial, even if you are from Venus and a hermaphrodite. – A. S. Byatt

There is good evidence that Venus once had liquid water and a much thinner atmosphere, similar to Earth billions of years ago. But today the surface of Venus is dry as a bone, hot enough to melt lead, there are clouds of sulfuric acid that reach a hundred miles high and the air is so thick it’s like being 900 meters deep in the ocean. – Bill Nye

Also on this day: The Royal Italian Opera – In 1856, the Royal Italian Opera house burned to the ground.
Stick ‘Em Up – In 1836, Samuel Colt developed a new type of gun.
Boston Massacre – In 1770, five men were killed during a riot in Boston.
Iron Curtain – In 1946, Winston Churchill first publicly used the term “Iron Curtain”.

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