During the 1800′s, Scientist Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, who was closely observing Mars, announced that he had seen “Canali” on Mars or “Channels” when translated in English. But people got excited over the discovery and wrongly translated it to “Canals” giving the impression that intelligent occupants built large canals in Mars.
One of the missions of the Mariner exploration series was to know, once and for all, if there is life on Mars.
Mariners 6 & 7 was the first successful duo to fly by Mars and take pictures. The probes came as close as 3,550 kilometers to Mars and took 55 close up pictures of the surface of Mars. The 2 spacecrafts took a total of 143 images of Mars combined.
The Mariner 6 was successfully launched on February 6, 1969 and was quickly followed by Mariner 7 on march 27, 1969. They reached Mars on July 31, 1969 and March 27, 1969 respectively. The Mariner 6 successfully flew by Mars and took 75 pictures of the Martian surface while Mariner 7 took 126 pictures.
- Took pictures of the Southern and Northern polar caps.
- Proved that what Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli saw were “Channels” instead of “Canals”.
- Photographed geologic features of Mars, including; Collapsed ridges, Craterless depressions, Impact regions, and Cratered deserts.
The Discoveries of Mariners 6 & 7 brought about a new mission – A Mars orbiter. Scientists realized that pictures taken by fly-by missions won’t give much information in terms of studying the Martian atmosphere and weather patterns. A lot of questions remained unanswered and a thorough observation of the red planet was the only solution.