Problems of Venusian spacecraft landing modeling for various soil-analogues

Dynamics, ballistics, movement control of flying vehicles


Buslaev S. P.*, Vorontsov V. A.**, Grafodatskiy O. S.***

Lavochkin Research and Production Association, NPO Lavochkin, 24, Leningradskay str., Khimki, Moscow region, 141400, Russia



The subject of this study is the problem of Venusian analogues-groups simulation, which arises anew while planning the future spacecraft expeditions to new areas of Venus. Here, under the analogs-soils, we imply mathematical models or purposefully made in terrestrial conditions artificial physical models of soils to substitute natural soils of Venus. These analogs-soils are employed for landing dynamics calculation and testing of a spacecraft landing on soil.

The goal of this work consists in analyzing the problems while developing new analogues and the experience of employing analogs-soils in JSC “NGO Lavochkin” during the by-gone Soviet spacecraft “Venus 9-14” and “Vega 1-2” development.

At present, planetologists еtake interest in studying new areas of Venus, where tectonic processes occurred earlier. They expect to bump into ancient rock yield of the planet in these areas, which wlould help to elucidate the history of Venus evolution.

On June 15 1985 the Vega-2 spacecraft landing had completed a fifteen-year series of successful landings of ten Soviet spacecraft on the surface of Venus. Structurally, the landing mechanism was attached to a cushioning toroidal shell, which was deformed and absorbed the kinetic energy of the spacecraft, while hitting the surface. Analysis of radar images of the Venusian surface revealed that all Soviet spacecraft landed in the areas with predomination plain types of Venusian terrain. The terrain relief of this area differs from the one, with the new landing areas. The area with the new landing areas was called “tesserae”, which in Greek means “tile”. The “tessera” relief represents an aggregate of intersecting ridges and furrows, the ridges’ height herewith can reach up to 1–2 km, the ledges – up to 1 km, while slope angles of the surface can reach up to 30 degrees.

The spacecraft landing practice was performed at the JSC “NPO Lavochkin” on both physical and mathematical test benches. The article lists the objectives of physical tests. Models of deformable and non-deformable soils were employed for landing practice. The article presents the description of the physical test bench, which was employed for developing mathematical model of a spacecraft penetration into deformable Venusian soil. It also presents the description of mathematical models of landing on various models of soil.

The work lists the sequence of models simulating the spacecraft hit with the soil. These models are listed by the degree of their complication – from a flat impact on an non-deformed flat surface to a spatial impact on an elastic-viscous-plastic medium with a complex relief.

Finally, the article drew conclusions that two most common basic problems exist for soil-analogue:

– Selection of hypothetical soil of Venus in the “tesserae” area;

– Selection of Earth soil-analogue, corresponding to the hypothetical Venusian soil.

The relief in new regions of Venus is much more complicated than the terrain in which Soviet vehicles landed, so these problems are of particular importance for the safe landing of spacecraft.


landing on Venus, landing on soil, soil-analogues, test bench, landing simulation


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