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Pioneer Venus Probe
 
The full-scale engineering model of the Venus Probe, on display in the gallery.
...the first American probe to enter the atmosphere of Venus.
   

Specs
Launch date: August 8, 1978
Launch vehicle: Atlas-Centaur
Venus arrival date: December 9, 1978
Weight: 315 kilograms (694 pounds)
Prime contractor: Hughes Aircraft

Simulated view of the Pioneer Venus Probe parachuting down through the atmosphere of Venus. Image courtesy of NASA.
 

History
The Pioneer Venus Probe was one part of a "multiprobe" spacecraft designed to send four probes from a courier "bus" down through the atmosphere of Venus. The probe contained seven science experiments to collect samples and readings about the atmosphere's composition as it parachuted down to Venus's surface. Entry forces on the probe exceeded 300g, but the probe performed perfectly, sending data back to Earth until its planned crash into the planet's surface, less than an hour after it entered Venus's atmosphere.

In addition to the Pioneer Venus Multiprobe, the Pioneer Venus mission also included the launch of an orbiter on May 20, 1978. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter circled Venus from December 1978 until it burned up in the Venus atmosphere in August 1992.

The Science Center's Pioneer Venus Probe
The Venus Probe on display in the Air and Space Gallery is an engineering model on loan from the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Pioneer Venus Links
Pioneer Venus Project Information
This NASA page includes details about all the experiments contained on the Venus Probe, as well as on other components of the Pioneer Venus Project. You can also find links to information about the planet Venus, including images taken by the Pioneer Venus Orbiter and other satellite missions to the planet.

Pioneer Venus Orbiter
The main focus of this page, which includes information on the Pioneer Venus Orbiter and Multiprobe, is the gamma ray experiment included on the Orbiter. However, you can also follow links to a gallery of Pioneer Venus images, including some artists' renditions of the crafts at Venus as well as some photos of the crafts during assembly.

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