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On This Day In Space: Oct. 8, 1992: Pioneer 12 Burns Up in Venus’ Atmosphere

On Oct. 8, 1992, NASA’s Pioneer 12 spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere of Venus.

Pioneer 12, also known as the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, spent 14 years orbiting Venus and studying the planet’s atmosphere. It also investigated how the planet’s ionosphere and magnetic field interact with charged particles from the sun called solar wind.

An artist’s illustration of NASA’s Pioneer 12 spacecraft, also known as Pioneer Venus Orbiter, which explored the cloudy planet for 14 years from orbit. (Image credit: NASA/Paul Hudson)

Pioneer 12 even got to check out Halley’s Comet while it was in orbit around Venus.

When Pioneer 12 ran out of propellant, its orbit naturally started to decay, and it disintegrated in Venus’s atmosphere.

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