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Venera 9
 
 
Venera 9
Date: 8 Jun 1975
Venera 9 was the first of a new generation of Soviet space probes ('4V') designed to explore Venus. Launched by the more powerful Proton launch booster, the new spacecraft were nearly five times heavier than their predecessors. Each spacecraft comprised both an orbiter and a lander.

The 2,300-kilogram orbiters (at Venus orbit insertion) were designed to spend their missions photographing the planet in ultraviolet light and conducting other scientific investigations.

The landers, of a completely new design, employed aerodynamic braking during Venusian atmospheric entry and contained a panoramic photometer to take images of the surface.

Without any apparent problems and with two trajectory corrections (on 16 June and 15 October), Venera 9's lander separated from its parent on 20 October 1975, and two days later, it hit Venus's turbulent atmosphere at a speed of 10.7 kilometers per hour. After using a series of parachutes, the lander set down on the planet's day side at 05:13 UT on 22 October. Landing coordinates were 32° north latitude and 291° longitude at the base of a hill near Beta Regio.

During its 53 minutes of transmissions from the surface, Venera 9 took and transmitted the very first picture of the Venusian surface from a height of 90 centimeters. These were, in fact, the very first photos received of the surface of another planet. The lander was supposed to transmit a full 360° panorama, but because one of the two covers on the camera failed to release, only a 180° panorama was received. Illumination was akin to that of a cloudy day on Earth. The image clearly showed flat rocks strewn around the lander.

The Venera 9 orbiter meanwhile entered a 1,500 x 111,700-kilometer orbit around the planet at 34°10' inclination and acted as a communications relay for the lander. It became the first spacecraft to go into orbit around Venus.

The Soviets announced on 22 March 1976 that the orbiter's primary mission, which
included using French-made ultraviolet cameras to obtain photographs in 1,200- kilometer swaths, had been fulfilled.
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