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Vega 2

By Marty McDowell/NASA

On December 21, 1984, the Soviet Union launched Vega 2. As with Vega 1, this mission sent a balloon into the dense Venusian atmosphere and made a close flyby of Halley's Comet. The transmissions from the balloon lasted a remarkable 46 1/2 hours.

This spacecraft mission combined a Venus swingby and a Comet Halley flyby. Two identical spacecraft, Vega 1 and Vega 2, were launched December 15 and 21, 1984, respectively. After carrying Venus entry probes to the vicinity of Venus (arrival and deployment of probes were scheduled for June 11-15, 1985), the two spacecraft were retargeted using Venus gravity field assistance to intercept Comet Halley in March 1986.

The first spacecraft encountered Comet Halley on March 6, 1986, and the second three days later. The flyby velocity was 77.7 km/s. Although the spacecraft could be targeted with a precision of 100 km, the position of the spacecraft relative to the comet nucleus was estimated to be known only to within a few thousand kilometers. This, together with the problem of dust protection, led to estimated flyby distances of 10,000 km for the first spacecraft and 3000 km for the second.

Source: NASA.


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Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.



Vega 2 spacecraft

Courtesy of NASA

Launched: December 21, 1984

Destination: Venus and Halley's Comet

Arrival: June 15, 1985 and March 9, 1986

Return: N/A

Nation: Soviet Union

Mission: Lander and atmospheric probe

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