Venera 13 orbiter
|Mission type||Flyby and Lander|
|Launch date||30 October 1981 at 06:04:00 UTC|
|Launch vehicle||Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages|
|Flyby date||1 March 1982|
Venera 13 and 14 were identical spacecraft built to take advantage of the 1981 Venus launch opportunity and launched 5 days apart, Venera 13 on 30 October 1981 at 06:04:00 UTC and Venera 14 on 4 November 1981 at 05:31:00 UTC, both with an on-orbit dry mass of 760 kg.
Each mission consisted of a cruise stage and an attached descent craft.
As the cruise stage flew by Venus the bus acted as a data relay for the lander and then continued on into a heliocentric orbit. It was equipped with a gamma-ray spectrometer, UV grating monochromator, electron and proton spectrometers, gamma-ray burst detectors, solar wind plasma detectors, and two-frequency transmitters which made measurements before, during, and after the Venus flyby.
The descent lander was a hermetically-sealed pressure vessel, which contained most of the instrumentation and electronics, mounted on a ring-shaped landing platform and topped by an antenna. The design was similar to the earlier Venera 9–12 landers. It carried instruments to take chemical and isotopic measurements, monitor the spectrum of scattered sunlight, and record electric discharges during its descent phase through the Venusian atmosphere. The spacecraft utilized a camera system, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, a screw drill and surface sampler, a dynamic penetrometer, and a seismometer to conduct investigations on the surface.
List of lander experiments and instruments:
- Accelerometer, Impact Analysis - Bison-M
- Thermometers, Barometers - ITD
- Spectrometer / Directional Photometer - IOAV-2
- Ultraviolet Photometer
- Mass Spectrometer - MKh-6411
- Penetrometer / Soil Ohmmeter - PrOP-V
- Chemical Redox Indicator - Kontrast
- 2 Color Telephotometer Cameras - TFZL-077
- Gas Chromatograph - Sigma-2
- Radio / Seismometer - Groza-2
- Nephelometer - MNV-78-2
- Hydrometer - VM-3R
- X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (Aerosol) - BDRA-1V
- X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (Soil) - Arakhis-2
- Soil Drilling Apparatus - GZU VB-02
- Stabilized Oscillator / Doppler Radio
- Small solar batteries - MSB
After launch and a four month cruise to Venus the descent vehicle separated from the cruise stage and plunged into the Venusian atmosphere on 1 March 1982. After entering the atmosphere a parachute was deployed. At an altitude of about 50 km the parachute was released and simple airbraking was used the rest of the way to the surface.
The lander had cameras to take pictures of the ground and spring-loaded arms to measure the compressibility of the soil. The quartz camera windows were covered by lens caps which popped off after descent.
The area was composed of bedrock outcrops surrounded by dark, fine-grained soil. After landing, an imaging panorama was started and a mechanical drilling arm reached to the surface and obtained a sample, which was deposited in a hermetically sealed chamber, maintained at 30 °C and a pressure of about 0.05 atmosphere (5 kPa). The composition of the sample determined by the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer put it in the class of weakly differentiated melanocratic alkaline gabbroids.
The lander survived for 127 minutes (the planned design life was 32 minutes) in an environment with a temperature of 457 °C (855 °F) and a pressure of 89 Earth atmospheres (9.0 MPa). The descent vehicle transmitted data to the bus, which acted as a data relay as it flew by Venus.
Suggested photographic evidence of life
Leonid Ksanfomaliti of the Space Research Institute of Russia's Academy of Sciences (a contributor to the Venera mission) and Stan Karaszewski of Karas, in Solar System Research, suggests signs of life in the Venera images. According to Ksanfomaliti, certain objects resembled a "disk", a "black flap" and a "scorpion" which "emerge, fluctuate and disappear", referring to their changing location on different photographs and traces on the ground. The article was titled "Venus as a natural laboratory for search of life in high temperature conditions: Events on the planet on March 1, 1982", L. V. Ksanfomality, Solar System Research, February 2012, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 41-5. Engineers familiar with the probe have identified the moving "disk" as actually being the two lens caps ejected from the lander. Rather than a single object that had moved between two different places, they are simply two inanimate similar-looking objects in different places. The other "objects" are ascribed to image processing artefacts and do not appear in the original photography.
The Editors of that journal published an editorial comment and a number of commentary articles from other scientists in the September 2012 issue, Volume 46, Issue 5. That issue also includes a second article from Ksanfomaliti, in which he identifies several other life forms and speculates regarding the apparent rich diversity of life around the landing site.
- The Venera 13 lander appears in the short film Horses on Mars (2001) with a message to the main character who is a microbe lost on Venus.
- "NSSDC Master Catalog - Venera 13 Descent Craft". NASA National Science Data Center. Retrieved 13 April 2013.
- Dr Karl - Murphy's Law, Part two
- Images available at http://www.donaldedavis.com/2003NEW/NEWSTUFF/DDVENUS.html
- Solar System Research, 2012, 46(1)
- "Russian Researcher Suggests Venera-13 Imaged Life on Venus | Space Exploration". Sci-News.com. 1982-03-01. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- Space. "Russian scientist claims 1982 pictures shows 'life on Venus'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-08-12.
- "Scientists Move on from Mars, Say Venus Shows Signs of Life - International Business Times". Ibtimes.com. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2012-08-12.