The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected Martin Marietta Aerospace, Denver, Colorado and Hughes Aircraft, El Segundo, California to perform studies which could lead to the final development of an unmanned NASA spacecraft to make topographical radar maps of Venus in the mid-1980s.
When the $500,000 study contracts are completed in the summer of 1980, one of the two companies may be chosen to develop the VOIR (Venus Orbiting Imaging Radar) spacecraft if the mission is approved by the U.S. Congress.
Planned for shuttle launching and five month trip to Venus, the VOIR spacecraft would first be placed in 185 by 11,800 mile (300 by 19,000 kilometers) orbit for two month gravity study of the planet.
The craft's orbit would then be circularized at 185 miles (300 kilometers) for 120 day radar mapping sequence, which would cover nearly all the surface of Venus at low resolution (.6 miles or 1 kilometer) and about 2 1/2 percent at high resolution (328 feet or 100 meters).
The primary mapping instrument aboard the VOIR spacecraft will be side-looking synthetic aperture radar (SAR) similar to one flown in 1978 aboard NASA's experimental oceanographic satellite, Seasat.
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