Archive for the ‘mariner 3’ tag
The human being’s fascination of Mars and the solar system dates back from the time of the Babylonians, maybe even earlier we don’t really know. During that time little was known about Mars, only that it looks fiery red and had a strange loop in the sky unlike any other.
This fascination brought about excitement to the thought of exploring the solar system and knowing if other planets have occupants, particularly our neighboring planet Mars. Advancement in science and technology enabled us to observe Mars, large and powerful telescopes were built to get a closer look at the red planet and probably get a glimpse of its occupants.
It was not until the 1960′s and 70′s, where we became technologically capable of exploring the solar system, did we get a birds eyeview of Mars. NASA developed 10 spacecarafts, named Mariner, to explore the inner solar system. Mariners 3 and 4 were the first 2 probes that was tasked to fly by Mars and take close up pictures.
Mariner 3 was launched on November 5, 1964 but failed when the shroud encasing the probe failed to open. Mariner 3 never reached Mars.
Mariner 4 was launched 3 weeks later, on November 28, 1964. Everybody had their fingers crossed since the failure of Mariner 3 was still fresh in the peoples minds. But NASA made all the adjustments and they were positive that the spacecraft will reach Mars and take the first pictures of another planet.
On July 14, 1965, after a 228 day cruise, Mariner 4 finally reached Mars and took 22 pictures that covers about 1 percent of the Martian surface. The pictures revealed a dead planet with hundreds of impact craters, some of the frosted due to the planets cold atmosphere, a rustic surface with signs of water being present sometime in the past.
Mariner 4 flew as close as 9,846 kilometers from Mars.
Mariner 4 wasn’t expected to last more than 8 months but it stayed operational for 3 years. After its Mars fly-by, Mariner 4 was used to further study the solar wind environment and it worked in coordination with Mariner 5, a spacecraft launched into Venus in 1967.