NASA Missions - Pioneer Missions

Stage 3 Assignment

Pioneer 1

The Pioneer Venus 1 project called for two spacecraft to explore the atmosphere and surface of Venus.This project was expetected to take 8 months but in fact took a long 14 years.

Pioneer Venus 1 was the first spacecraft to map the surface of Venus using a radar package. The orbiter entered an orbit around Venus on 4 December 1978 after a 6.5-month journey.

Data from the radar mapper allowed scientists to produce a topographical map of most of the Venusian surface between 73° north and 63° south latitude at a resolution of 75 kilometers. It also showed that Venus was much smoother and more spherical than Earth.

The mapping radar was switched off on 19 March 1981 but it was activated again in 1991, thirteen years after launch, to explore the previously inaccessible southern portions of the planet. In May 1992, Pioneer Venus 1 began the final phase of its mission. The last transmission was received on 8 October 1992 the decaying orbit no longer permitted communications. The spacecraft burned in the atmosphere soon after.

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