Venera 12


The Venera 12 (Russian: Венера-12 meaning Venus 12) was an uncrewed Soviet space mission designed to explore the planet Venus. Venera 12 was launched on 14 September 1978 at 02:25:13 UTC.[2]

Venera 12
Venus 12.jpg
Venera 12
OperatorSoviet Academy of Sciences
COSPAR ID1978-086A
SATCAT no.11025
Mission durationTravel: 3 months and 6 days
Lander: 110 minutes
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type4V-1
Launch mass4,940 kg (10,890 lb)
Dry mass1,600 kg (3,500 lb)
Dimensions2.3 m × 2.7 m × 5.7 m (7.5 ft × 8.9 ft × 18.7 ft)
Start of mission
Launch date14 September 1978, 02:25:13 UTC
RocketProton-K/D-1 8K82K
Launch siteBaikonur 81/23
End of mission
Last contact18 April 1980[1]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Semi-major axis6,569 kilometres (4,082 mi)
Perigee altitude177 kilometres (110 mi)
Apogee altitude205 kilometres (127 mi)
Flyby of Venus
Spacecraft componentVenera 12 flight platform
Closest approach19 December 1978
Distance~35,000 kilometers (22,000 mi)
Venus lander
Spacecraft componentVenera 12 descent craft
Landing date21 December 1978, 03:30
Landing site7°S 294°E / 7°S 294°E / -7; 294

After separating from its flight platform on 19 December 1978, the Venera 12 lander entered the Venus atmosphere two days later at 11.2 km/s. During its descent, the lander employed aerodynamic braking followed by parachute braking, ending with atmospheric braking. After a nearly one-hour descent, a soft landing was made at 06:30 Moscow time (0330 UT) on 21 December. Touchdown speed was 7–8 m/s; landing coordinates are 7°S 294°E / 7°S 294°E / -7; 294. Continuing for about 110 minutes after touchdown, the lander transmitted data to the flight platform for about 110 minutes until the flight platform, which remained in a heliocentric orbit, moved out of range. Venera 11 and 12 carried identical instruments.[2]

Flight platformEdit

The Venera 12 flight platform carried solar wind detectors, ionosphere electron instruments, and two gamma ray burst detectors – the Soviet-built KONUS and the French-built SIGNE 2. The SIGNE 2 detectors were simultaneously flown on Venera 12 and Prognoz 7 to allow for triangulation of gamma ray sources. Before and after the Venus flyby, Venera 11 and Venera 12 yielded detailed time-profiles for 143 gamma-ray bursts, resulting in the first ever catalog of such events. The last gamma-ray burst reported by Venera 12 occurred on 5 January 1980. Venera 12 used its ultraviolet spectrometer to study comet Bradfield (C/1979 Y1) on 13 February 1980, and reported spectrophotometric data until 19 March 1980.[3]

The list of flight platform instruments and experiments are:[4]

  • 30–166 nm Extreme UV spectrometer
  • Compound plasma spectrometer
  • KONUS Gamma-ray burst detector
  • SNEG Gamma-ray burst detector
  • Magnetometer
  • 4 Semiconductor counters
  • 2 Gas-discharge counters
  • 4 Scintillation counters
  • Hemispherical proton telescope

The active phase of the science mission for the flight platform ended in April 1980. Venera 12 is currently in heliocentric orbit, with perihelion of 0.69 AU, aphelion of 1.01 AU, eccentricity of 0.19, inclination of 2.3 degrees and orbital period of 284 days.


The Venera 12 descent craft carried instruments designed to study the detailed chemical composition of the atmosphere, the nature of the clouds, and the thermal balance of the atmosphere. These instruments included a gas chromatograph to measure the composition of the Venus atmosphere, instruments to study scattered solar radiation and soil composition, and a device named Groza which was designed to measure atmospheric electrical discharges. Results reported included evidence of lightning and thunder, a high 36Ar/40Ar ratio, and the discovery of carbon monoxide at low altitudes.

Each of the Venera 11 and Venera 12 included landers with a pair of cameras, each of which was designed for color imaging. A design flaw prevented the lens caps from separating, resulting in all cameras failing to capture and return images.[5]

The list of lander experiments and instruments are:[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Siddiqi, Asif A. (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF). The NASA history series (second ed.). Washington, DC: NASA History Program Office. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-1-62683-042-4. LCCN 2017059404. SP2018-4041.
  2. ^ a b "Venera 12". NASA.
  3. ^ "Venera 12". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.
  4. ^ a b Mitchell, Don P. "Drilling into the Surface of Venus". Retrieved 13 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Venera 12 Descent Craft". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.

External linksEdit

  • Venera 11 & Venera 12 (NASA)
  • Drilling into the Surface of Venus (Venera 11 and 12)