On October 22, 1975, Soviet Union’s Venera 9 spacecraft landed on Venus and took the first photos from the surface of another planet.
October 22 story of what happened this day in Science, Technology, Astronomy, and Space Exploration history.
Venera 9 was launched on June 8, 1975, from the Baikonur cosmodrome aboard a Proton-K/D rocket. Two mid-course corrections were performed en route and on October 20, the spacecraft arrived at Venus. The same day, the lander separated from the orbiter and performed a soft landing on Venus’ surface on October 22.
The lander was 2 meters (6.56 feet) high and had a mass of 660 kg (1,455 lbs).
Three parachutes were opened at an altitude of about 64 km (40 miles) – and they were jettisoned at 50 km (31 miles).
Venera 9 hit the surface at a speed of 7 meters per second (25 km/h or 15.5 mph). A compressible, metal, doughnut-shaped landing cushion absorbed the shock successfully.
The first photo from the surface of another planet (Venus)
Venera 9 successfully transmitted the first photo from the surface of Venus, and it was the first image ever from the surface of another planet (the photo above). The measured light level was 14,000 lux, similar to that of Earth in full daylight but with no direct sunshine.
Unfortunately, the panoramic imaging system could only take a 180-degree image instead of the planned 360-degree panorama because one of the two covers failed to release.
According to Soviet reports, transmission ceased after 53 minutes because the orbiter relay passed out of range of the lander.
Preliminary results indicated:
- Clouds were 30-40 km (18-25 miles) thick with bases at 30-35 km (18-22 miles) altitude
- Atmospheric constituents including HCl, HF, Br, and I
- Surface pressure was about 90 (earth) atmospheres (equal to the water pressure at an ocean depth of 900 meters/ 2,952 feet)
- The surface temperature was 485 °C (905 °F)
- Light levels were comparable to those at earth’s mid-latitudes on a cloudy summer day
- Successful TV photography showed shadows, no apparent dust in the air, and a variety of 30-40 cm rocks that were not eroded.
- Venera 9 on the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive website
- Venera 9 on Wikipedia
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