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NOTE TO EDITORS. This fact sheet outlines the mission
and basic scientific rationale for Pioneer Venus '78.
It is suggested that it be retained in your files for
future reference.


Pioneer Venus 1978: Summary .................... 1

Why Pioneer Venus? ........................... 3

History of Pioneer Venus .................... 5

The Mission ................................. 5

Scientific Objectives ........................... Q

Scientific Instruments ....................... 10

The Spacecraft ................................ 13

Tracking and Data Acquisition .................. 19

Ground Data System .......................... 19

Launch Vehicle ................................ 19

For Further Information:

Nicholas Panagakor,
Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
(Phone: 202/755-3680)

Peter Waller
Ames Research Center, Mountain View, Calif.
(Phone: 415/965-5091)

RELEASE NO: 75-274

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NASA will send both an orbiter and a

multiprobe space-
craft to Venus in 1978 to determine the characteristics
Venus's atmosphere and weather.

A better understanding of that cloud-shrouded planet's

climate, with its constant environment and one-day
could help scientists solve the mystery of Earth's driving
weather forces.

This knowledge in turn could be of immeasurable

in predicting food shortages resulting from global
changes, and in dealing with changes in our planet's
resulting from man's tampering.

The spin-stabilized multiprobe spacecraft consists

of a bus, a large probe, and three identical
small probes,
each carrying a complement of scientific instruments.
probes will be released from the bus 20 days
prior to arrival
at Venus.

The large probe will conduct a detailed sounding of

the lower atmosphere, obtaining measurements of the
ture, composition, and clouds from 70 kilometers (42
to the surface. Primary emphasis is on the planet's energy
balance and clouds. Wind speed will also be measured
the descent.
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Entering at points some 8000 km (5000 mi.) apart,

the three -- -i probes will provide information on the

general circulation pattern of the lower atmosphere.

Since the important motions are believed to be global,

only a few observations are required. The probe bus

will provide data on the Venusian upper atmosphere and

ionosphere down to an altitude of about 120 km (72 mi.),

where it will burn up.

The orbiter mission is designed co globally map

the Venusian atmosphere by remote sensing and radio

occultation, directly measure the upper atmosphere,

ionosphere, and the solar wind/ionosphere interaction,

and study the planetary surface by remote sensing.

The orbiter will be placed in a highly inclined

elliptical orbit with the lowest rcint in Venusian mid-

latitudes at about 200 km (120 i.) altitude. Operation

in orbit should allow investigation over at least one

Venusian year (225 Earth days).

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Understanding Earth's Weather. Many climatologists

and meteorologists say that data on the weather and climates
of both Venus and Mars is of immediate importance. Both
planets provide simpler (and different) models of how an
atmosphere works on a planet, and understanding how these
atmospheres work should help in understanding Earth's
climate and weather.

Earth's atmosphere and the forces affecting it are

so complicated that very little progress has been made in
predicting climate. Climate is such things as: next
year's weather, a cold summer, a multi-year African drought,
a hundred-year cycle of higher-than-normal temperature.

The time for climatology (long-term weather research)

is here, scientists say, for these reasons:

M Earth's population will double in the next 35 years.

Masses of new population each year will mean great pressure
on agricultural resources, such as food and fiber.

Some climatologists feel that recent cooler years may

mean a years-long cold cycle. They point out that a 1.5-
degree drop in the average temperature would eliminate the
Canadian wheat crop, and that the massive Russian wheat
deal, for example, was basically a climatic event, reflec-
ting a cold summer and short crop.

New understanding of Earth's atmosphere might even-

tually be used for climate control, but more immediately,
if an adve-se climate trend is known, agricultural plan-
ning could limit its effects.

e The current concern about destruction of the

Earth's protective ozone layer by aerosol spray accumula-
tions began specifically through space observations of Venus,
Professor Richard Goody of Harvard points out. The odds are
about two to one, he adds, that this problem is real, and
man cannot afford to take such chances with his environment.

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Planet Atmosphere Modeling. Scientists want to crank
data on the atmospheres of both Venus and Mars into their
theoretical models for the Earth's upper and lower atmos-
pheres--and then compare results with observed effects.
Such information for Mars will come with the Viking landing
in 1976; and for Venus from Pioneer Venus.

The advantages of Venus are in its simplicity. As

Professor Verner Suomi of the University of Wisconsin points
out: Venus's day is nearly the same length as its year (225
Earth days), and hence its weather is nearly the same as its
climate. And hence, much information on its climate should
be obtainable through a relatively brief study.

Though most people may not realize it, almost nothing

is known about thL . eather and climate of Venus, and several
scientific disciplines would find immediate use for some of
the basic facts on Earth's nearest neighbor.

Planets As Laboratories. Venus's simplicity and

advantages of this are shown by four differences from Earth:

1. Venus is always covered by clouds, so there is

no effect of alternating cloud cover and sunlight.

2. Venus has no oceans so there is no effect of the

interrelationship of ocean and land areas.

3. Venus has no tilt on its axis, so there are no

seasons. (Earth's seasons are a result of its axial tilt.)

4. Venus rotates only once in a Venusian year (225

Earth days), and this means it does not have a coriolis
force of rotation, which along with solar heating, drives
the Earth's weather.

These simplifying factors make the whole planet

and its atmosphere like a laboratory experiment in which
several variables are held constant in order to look at
other variables, (Scientists do this constantly in their

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Questions Important to Man

Scientists raise some other questions of importance

to man that may be answered by the comparative meteorology
of planets.

These are:

What mechanisms have kept the Earth's climate rela-

tively benevolent for several billion years?

Why have the other terrestrial planets taken such

different courses? Mars and Venus spacecraft so far have
provided hints.

What are the stabilizing and destabilizing feedback

mechanisms that determine a planet's climate? How strong
are they?

What has happened in the past on Mars to cause erosion

as if there were once rivers?

Where is the water that was on Venus originally?

Scientists explain that the laws of chemistry and

fluid dynamics are universal. Theoretical models of the
Earth's upper and lower atmospheres can be tested over a
wide range of boundary conditions by seeing how well these
models simulate the atmospheres of Mars or Venus.


The Pioneer Venus Project was assigned by NASA's

Office of Space Science to Ames Research Center, Mountain
View, Calif., in January 1972, where system defin4tion
was carried out with competitive studies by two major firms.
In February 1974, Hughes Aircraft Co., El Segundo, Califor-
nia was selected to build the spacecraft.


Pioneer Venus is the first NASA mission developed

specifically to investigate the atmosphere of Venus on
a planetary scale by direct measurements. Pioneer Venus
employs two spacecraft, an orbit combined with a multi-

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probe craft, to provide for the first time correlation of

direct atmosphere measurements with those taken remotely
on a planetary scale over 243 days, or more than one
Venusian year.

The project uses two spacecraft systems with many

common features. A bus-type basic spacecraft has been
designed to which specific subsystems are added to meet
requirements ot the two planned missions.

The two missions have similar launch and interplane-

tary phases, but have very different planet encounter

A large probe and three small probes integrated with

the bus provides the multiprobe spacecraft. A Venus-orbit
insertion rropulsion unit and a high-gain narrow-beam anten-
na for data return are added to the bus to provide the or-
biter spacecraft.

Low-cc-t concepts of commonality, use of existing

designs, increased design margins to reduce testing have
been made possible by use of the relatively large pay-
load Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle.

Approximate transit time of the Multiprobe Spacecraft

is 125 days. At about 20 days before Venus encounter, the
Multiprobe Spacecraft will be maneuvered for probe targeting
and the probes will be released from the Pus.

The Probes will be decelerated aerodynamically and

will have a descent time to the surface of about one hour.
They will be designed to operate to, but not on the sur-
face. After the Probe release, the Bus will be targeted
for a shallow atmospheric entry to obtain measurements of
the upper atmosphere prior to burnup, which will occur at
an altitude of about 110 km (65 miles).


Scientific priority for the Venus mission was

established by the scientific community in two documents;

"VENUq,: Strategy for Exploration. Report of a Study

of the Space Science Board." National Academy of
Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1970.


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"Priorities for Space Research 1971 - 1980. Report

of a Study of the Space Science Board."
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.,
1971. /

The scientific investigations for the project were

selected by NASA Headquarters in June 1974. For the Multi-
probe Mission, this selection followed a tentative selec-
tion made in June of 1973.


Multiprobe Mission. The scientific objectives for

the Multiprobe Mission are the study of the dense regions
of the Venus atmosphere to find:
(a) The nature and composition of the clouds

(b) The composition and structure of the atmosphere

from the surface to high altitudes

(c) The general circulation pattern of the atmosphere

This requires entry probes that enter at several selec-
ted locations for direct measurements of the clouds and
lower atmosphere of Venus. Onboard instruments will deter-
mine if the clouds consist of condensed vapors or solid
particles; if solids, whether they are ice crystals or
dust; the size of the particles; and whether there are
several cloud layers. Measurements will also help deter-
mine whether minor constituents are uniformly mixed
throughout the atmosphere; whether any constituents could
melt or condense to form liquids on the surface of the
planets; if argon, neon, or nitrogen are present in the
atmosphere, where it originated and how the amount present
relates to the amount of the major constituent, C0 2 ; what
types of ions are present in the upper atmosphere; and what
the photochemistry of that region is. Finally, these entry-
probe measurements will help determine the variation of
temperature and composition of the atmosphere with altitude;
whether the polar regions are cooler than the equatorial
region; characteristics of the interaction between the clouds
and atmospheric heat sources; the cause of the high surface
temperature, whether from a "greenhouse" or other effect;
the extent to which the atmosphere accounts for a redistri-
bution of surface or internal material; variation in tem-
perature between the dayside and the nightside of the planet
and windspeed profiles from top of the atmosphere to the

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Besides probing the dense lower atmosphere of Venus,

instruments carried on the Pioneer Venus Bus will deter-
mine the neutral and ion species at high altitudes.
Orbiter Mission. Scientific objectives for the
Pioneer Orbiter Mission to Venus are:
(a) Direct measurement of the detailed structure
of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere
(b) Investigation of the interaction of the solar
wind with the Venus ionosphere and with the
small magnetic field in the vicinity of the

(c) Determination of the characteristics of the

atmosphere and surface of Venus on a planetary
scale by remote sensing experiments
(d) Determination of the planet's gravitational
field variations from the spacecraft's orbit
about Venus

Understanding the physical properties of the upper

atmosphere requires information on a planetary scale over
a period of time, which only an orbiter can provide. A
detailed investigation of the interaction between the
solar wind and the planet will allow mapping from varying
solar-aspect angles. Orbiters can also make the best
studies of general characteristics of the Venus surface
and atmosphere on a planetary scale.
Large numbers of orbits will provide sufficient data
to calculate the planet's mass distribution and the mechani-
cal and other properties of Venus's interior.


Multiprobe Mission
Twelve scientific investigations have been selected
to provide onboard scientific instruments for the Large
Probe, the three Small Probes, and the Probe Bus. Speci-
fic investigations and investigators are:



Large Probe

Neutral Mass Spectrometer John Hoffman University of

Gas Chromatograph Vance Oyama - NASA/ARC
Atmosphere Structure Alvin Seiff - NASA/ARC
Solar Flux Radiometer Martin Tomasko - University
of Arizona
Infrared Radiometer Robert Boese - NASA/ARC
Cloud Particle Size Spec- Robert Knollenberg - Particle
trometry Measuring Systems
Nephelometer (Cloud Jacques Blamont - University
Sensor) of Paris

Small Probes (3)

Atmosphere Structure Alving Seiff - NASA/ARC

Nephelometer Jacques Blamont
Net Flux Radiometer Verner Suomi - University
of Wisconsin


Neutral Mass Spectrometry Vulf von Zahn - University of

Bonn, West Germany
Ion Mass Spectrometry Harry Taylor - NASA/GSFC

Radar and Radio Science Teams. Radio Science Team will

use the changing characteristics of the spacecraft communica-
tions link, as it passes through the Venusian atmosphere. These
investigations determine atmosphere structure and composition,
wind velocities, and atmosphere turbulence. With multiple
ground station coverage of the entry vehicles, the team will
also determine the horizontal velocity (wind drift) character-
istics of the Venusian atmosphere.

Orbiter Mission

Twelve scientific investigations have been selected

to provide onboard scientific instruments for the orbiter
spacecraft system. The specific investigations and investi-
gators are:

Neutral Mass Spectrometer Hasso Neimann - NASA/GSFC

Ion Mass Spectrometer Harry Taylor - NASA/GSFC
Retarding Potential William Knudsen - Lockheed
Analyzer Missile and Space Co.

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Electron Temperatu'e Larry 3rpce - NASA/GSFC

Ultraviolet Spectrometer Alan Stewart University
of Colorado
Solar Wind/Plasma John Wolfe - NASA/ARC
Magnetometer Christopher Russel - UCLA
Infrared Radiometer F. H. Taylor - JPL
Cloud Photopolarimeter James Hansen - Goddard
Institute of
Space Studies
Radar Altimeter Team*
Electric Field Detector F. L. Scarf - TRW
W. D. Evans - LASL c
Gamma Ray Burst Detector

Radio and Radar Science Teams. The Radar Science

Team will analyze the oriboard radar instrument data
determine Venusian topography and surface characteristics.
The Radio Science Team for the Orbiter Mission will
spacecraft communications link as it passes
changes in the
through the Venusian atmosphere, and in many cases is
by the planet, to determine characteristics of this
and turbulence
Atmosphere composition and density cloud locations,
characteristics will be investigated as well. Planetary and
drag effects
celestial mechanics values and upper atmosphere
will also be found.

*Radar Altimeter Team Members: G. Pettengill, MIT:

D. Staelin, MIT; W. Kaula, UCLA; W. Brown, JPL.

Interdiscnpli.ary Scientists. Interdisciplinary

scientists have been selected for both the Multiprobe and
Orbiter Missions to provide assistance in analyses of the
Venusian atmosphere. For the Multiprobe Mission they are:

Dr. Siegfried Bauer NASA/GSFC

Dr. Thomas M. Donahue University of Michigan
Dr. Richard M. Goody Harvard University
Dr. Donald M. Hunten Kitt Peak National Observatory
Dr. James B. Pollack NASA/ARC
Dr. Spencer NASA/GSFC

For the Orbiter Mission they are:

Dr. Gerald Schubert UCLA

Dr. Harold Masursky U.S. Geological Survey
Dr. Thomas M. Donahue University of Michigan
Dr. G. McGill University of Massachusetts
Dr. Andrew F. Nagy University of Michigan

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The spacecraft systems, less scientific payloads, are

being designed and built by Hughes Aircraft Co. under direc-
tion of the Pioneer Project office at NASA's Ames Research
Center. Hughes is also integrating the scientific payload,
and will test the integrated system, and support launch
operations of the spacecraft.

The design uses existing and proven subsystems wherever

feasible. It uses standardized hardware to the maximum extent.
Design margins are increased to minimize testing.

Weight of the two spacecraft and their scientific

instruments will be about 567 kg. (1250 lbs.) for the Orbiter
spacecraft and about 885 kg. (1950 lbs.) for the Multiprobe

Both will be about 250 cm. (8 feet) in diameter.

Compatibility with the Deep Space Network (DSN) requires

that the communication system use S-band frequencies, and
both spacecraft will return 2048 data bits per second at
Venus. The DSN must track the large probe, three mTnall
probes, and the bus simultaneously durinq the planetary entry

The Bus

In the Bus spacecraft system, a thermally-controlled

equipment compartmer.t is provided with the Bus subsystems
mounted internally. For the Multiprobe spacecraft version,
two scientific instruments also are mounted in this compart-
ment. Also internal are two hydrazine propellant tanks
and six nozzles that make up the a itude control system.
The attitude control subsystem u1...-Sun and star sensors
to provide attitude reference information. Omni antennas
are mounted fore ard aft with a medium gain antenna on the
aft side. A cylindrical solar array is mounted to the periphery
of the equipment platform.

The Multiprobe Spacecraft

The spacecraft will consist of a Bus, one Large Probe,

and three Small Probes. the spacecraft will be spin-stabilized
and solar-powered during interplanetary fliqht. The Bus will
perform all trajectory correction maneuvers for targeting the


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The Large Probe and three Small Probes are each totally
individual spacecraft systems that provide the recuired sub-
systems to carry science payloads thrcugh atmospheric entry
to the surface of Venus, while maintaining direct communication
links with Earth-based DSN stations.
The Large Probe. The Large Probe weighs about 286 kg.
(630 lbs.), and is 145 cm. (about five feet) in diameter.
It will return data at 256 BPS and carry 35 kg. (75 lbs.)
of instruments.
The forward end of the Large Probe has a carbon phenolic
heat shield for heat protection and aerodynamic stability
during atmosphere entry, and a parachute descent subsytem.
The remaining probe subsytems, data handling, power, e
thermal protection, communications, and structure, are
mounted inside the probe pressure vessel, as is the science
payload. The pressure vessel is sealed against the Venusian
environment. A single, hemispheric omni-directional antenna
is provided on the aft end of the probe pressure vessel.
The Small Probe. The Small Probe configuration is
identical for each of the three Small Probes. Each probe
is 71 cm. (28 inches) in diameter, weighs 86 kg. (190 lbs.),
transmits data at 16 to 64 bits per second, and carries 8 kg.
(18 lbs.) of instruments.
The pressure vessel for the Small Probes seals the Small
Probe subsystems and the science payload from the hostile
Venusian atmosphere. No parachute descent system is used for
the free-falling Small Probes.
The high-speed aerodynamic designs for both the Large
and Small Probes are similar with a 45 degree conical fore-
body (heat shield) used in both designs.
The Orbiter Spacecraft
The Orbiter Spacecraft system, as with the Multiprobe,
uses the basic Bus. At the forward end of the Bus is the
bearing and power transfer assembly to mechanically despin the
parabolic, high-gain antenna. With the spacecraft spin
axis spin-stabilized perpendicular to the ecliptic plane
(Earth's orbit plane), the cespun, high-gain antenna reflec-
tor will be focused on the Earth during its interplanetary phase
and throughout its orbital lifetime. An orbit insertion
motor will be mounted at the other end of Lhe Orbiter Space-
craft to place the spacecraft in Venus orbit. A slightly
larger solar array will be provided to meet the larger
power demand of an orbiting spacecraft. A larger data
storage unit also is being provided.



All Orbiter Spacecraft scientific instruments will

be on the equipment platform inside the Bus. The magnetometer
sensor is mounted at the end of a boom to insure no magnetic
interference from the spacecraft.


Tracking and data acquisition for the Multiprobe and

Orbiter Spacecraft will be provided by the NASA Deep Space
Network (DSN) operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Labora~ory,
Pasadena, Calif. A subnet of Deep Space Stations with
26-meter (85 foot) diameter antenna systems and around-the-
world coverage will provide basic tracking support. The
64-meter (210 foot) diameter antenna subnet will provide
coverage during critical phases of the mission such as
reorientation, velocity corrections and Venus encounter.


The ground data system for the Pioneer Venus Missions

involves facilities of the Deep Space Network which includes
the Deep Space Stations, and the Network Operations facili-
ties at JPL, and thb NASA Ground Communications Network and
Pioneer Mission Operations and Computing Center facilities
at Ames Research Center.


The launch vehicle for the Pioneer Venus missions is

the AtlaL SLV-3D/Centaur D-1AR vehicle.

The first-stage Atlas is powered by two booster

engines, a sustainer engine, and two small vernier engines.

The second stage Centaur employs liquid hydrogen and

liquid oxygen as propellants. Primary thrust is provided
by two engines which gimbal for pitch, yaw, and roll con-
trol, and have a restart capability.

October 1975

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