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The Venera (Cyrillic: Венера) series probes were developed by the USSR between 1961 and 1984 to gather data from Venus. As with some of the USSR's other planetary probes, the later versions were launched in pairs with a second vehicle being launched soon after the first of the pair.

Ten probes from the Venera series successfully landed on Venus and transmitted data from the surface, including the two Vega program and Venera-Halley probes. In addition, thirteen Venera probes successfully transmitted data from the atmosphere of Venus.

Among the other results, probes of the series became the first man-made devices to enter the atmosphere of another planet (Venera 4 on October 18, 1967), to make a soft landing on another planet (Venera 7 on December 15, 1970), to return images from the planetary surface (Venera 9 on June 8, 1975), and to perform high-resolution radar mapping studies of Venus (Venera 15 on June 2, 1983). So, the entire series could be considered highly successful. Unfortunately the surface conditions on Venus are extreme, which meant that the probes only survived on the surface for a duration of 23 minutes (initial probes) up to about two hours (final probes).

Venera is the Russian name for Venus.


The Venera probes

Venera 1VA, 1 and 2

The first Soviet attempt at a flyby probe to Venus was launched on 4 February 1961, but failed to leave Earth orbit. In keeping with the (then) Soviet policy of not announcing details on failed missions, the launch was announced under the name Tyazhely Sputnik ("Heavy Satellite"). It is also known as Venera 1VA.[1]

Venera 1 and Venera 2 were intended as fly-by probes to fly past Venus without entering orbit. Venera 1 was launched on February 12, 1961. Telemetry on the probe failed seven days after launch. It is believed to have passed within 100,000 km of Venus and entered heliocentric orbit. Venera 2 launched on November 12, 1965, but also suffered a telemetry failure after leaving Earth orbit.

Several other failed attempts at Venus flyby probes were launched by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s,[2][3] but were not announced as planetary missions at the time, and hence did not officially receive the "Venera" designation.

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