National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Vega 1
 By Target   By Name   By Decade 
Vega 1
Vega 1 Mission to Venus Vega 1 Mission to Comets

Mission Type: Flyby, Lander
Launch Vehicle: 8K82K + Blok DM (Proton-K no. 329-01 / Blok DM no. 11L)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 200L, Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR
Spacecraft Mass: c. 4,920 kg
Spacecraft Instruments:
Lander: 1) Malakhit mass spectrometer; 2) Sigma-3 gas chromatograph; 3) VM-4 hygrometer; 4) GS-15-SCV gamma-ray spectrometer; 5) UV spectrometer; 6) BDRP-AM25 x-ray fluorescence spectrometer and drill; 7) ISAV nephelometer/scatterometer; 8) temperature and pressure sensors and 9) IFP aerosol analyzer
Balloon: 1) temperature and pressure sensors; 2) vertical wind anemometer; 3) nephelometer and 4) light level/lighting detector.
Bus: 1) imaging system; 2) infrared spectrometer; 3) ultraviolet, visible, infrared imaging spectrometer; 4) shield penetration detector; 5) dust detectors; 6) dust mass spectrometer; 7) neutral gas mass spectrometer; 8) APV-V plasma energy analyzer; 9) energetic-particle analyzer; 10) magnetometer and 11) wave and plasma analyzers
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center,

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.

The twin-spacecraft Vega project was perhaps the most ambitious deep space Soviet mission to date. The mission had three major goals: to place advanced lander modules onthe surface of Venus, to deploy balloons (two each) in the Venusian atmosphere, and, by using Venusian gravity, to fly the remaining buses past the Comet Halley.

The entire mission was a cooperative effort among the Soviet Union (who provided the spacecraft and launch vehicle) and Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

Although the landers were similar to ones used before for exploring Venus, the balloon gondolas were completely new French-made vehicles that carried American-French nephelometers to measure aerosol distribution in the atmosphere. The cometary flyby probes, which contained a 120-kilogram scientific package for investigations, were protected against high-velocity impacts from dust particles.

After a successful flight to Venus, Vega 1 released its 1,500-kilogram descent module on 9 June 1985, two days before atmospheric entry. At 61 kilometers altitude, as the lander descended, it released the first helium-inflated plastic balloon with a hanging gondola underneath it. Mass was around 20.8 kilograms. As the balloon drifted through the Venusian atmosphere (controlled partly by ballast), it transmitted important data on the atmosphere back to a network of tracking antennas on Earth.

Balloon 1 survived for 46.5 hours, eventually terminating operations because of battery failure. The lander set down safely on the ground at 03:02:54 UT on 11 June 1985 at 7.2° north latitude and 177.8° longitude, on the night side of Venus in the Mermaid Plain north of Aphrodite, and transmitted from the surface
for 56 minutes. Having deployed before it reached the surface, the soil sample drill
failed to complete its soil analysis, but the mass spectrometer returned important data.

The Vega 1 bus flew by Venus at a range of 39,000 kilometers and then headed for its encounter with Halley. After a course correction on 10 February 1986, the spacecraft began its formal studies of the comet on 4 March, when it was 14 million kilometers from its target. During the 3-hour encounter on 6 March 1986, the spacecraft approached to within 8,889 kilometers (at 07:20:06 UT) of Halley.

Vega 1 took more than 500 pictures via different filters as it flew through the gas cloud around the coma. Although the spacecraft was battered by dust, none of the instruments were disabled during the encounter. Vega 1 collected a wealth of information on Halley, including data on its nucleus, its dust production rate, its chemical composition, and its rotational rate. After subsequent imaging sessions on 7 and 8 March 1986, Vega 1 headed out to deep space.


Key Dates
15 Dec 1984:  Launch
9 Jun 1985 - 11 Jun 1985:  Balloon and Lander Operations at Venus (03:02:54 UT)
4 Mar 1986 - 8 Mar 1986:  Comet Halley Flyby
Status: Success
Fast Facts
Vega 1 Facts Vega was a cooperative effort by the Soviet Union, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France and West Germany.

Vega 1's lander did not carry a camera because mission trackers required a night-side landing.

Vega 1 was the vanguard of a fleet of international spacecraft sent to meet comet Halley (above) in 1986.
People Spotlight
Mihaly Horanyi Mihaly Horanyi
"I study cosmic dust, and dusty plasmas in space and in the laboratory." Read More...
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writers: Courtney O'Connor and Bill Dunford
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 15 Aug 2013