Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Pioneer Venus



In the tradition of the NASA special publications on planetary missions, the book, Pioneer Venus, offers a piece of history for a small investment. After a brief historical introduction, this book provides an informal but thorough documentation of a successful planetary mission with the human element very much at the forefront. Even the politics of funding are given acknowledgment. The amount of thought and planning that went into the design of the Pioneer Venus mission, from the feasibility studies and the announcement of opportunity in 1971 to the arrival of the orbiter and multiprobe spacecraft at Venus in late 1978, is given testimonial by the first half of the book, which is replete with tables and figures. It is evident from the vitality with which the two chapters on such mundane but crucial matters as mission operations, parachute development, tracking, data systems, and spacecraft engineering are written that the authors were intensely and actively involved in all aspects of the project. A separate chapter on scientific investigations gives brief descriptions of the experiments, highlighted with photographs of the instruments and principal investigators. The selection of experiments is especially noteworthy because the Pioneer Venus spacecraft was carefully outfitted to return complementary measurements, a trend that today's mission planners also adhere to.