Pioneer Venus

Pioneer Venus

A comprehensive investigation of Venus' atmosphere

The Pioneer Venus orbiter was the first of a two-spacecraft orbiter-probe combination designed to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the atmosphere of Venus. Pioneer measured the detailed structure of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere of Venus, investigated the interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere and the magnetic field in the vicinity of Venus, determined the characteristics of the atmosphere and surface of Venus on a planetary scale, determined the planet’s gravitational field harmonics from perturbations of the spacecraft orbit, detected gamma-ray bursts, and made UV observations of comets.

Mission Class:

Larger Missions

Mission Status:


LASP Roles:

Research, Instruments

Science Target:


Mission Focus:

Planetary Atmosphere, Planetary Magnetosphere

Launch date: May 20, 1978
End Dates: End of Comet Mission: February 4, 1986; End of Venus Mission: October 8, 1992
Mission duration: 15 years

Lead Institution: Goddard Space Flight Center

Partners: NASA Ames Research Center