Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mariner 2, spacecraft to Venus, launched 1962

Mariner 2, the world's first successfully interplanetary spacecraft, was launched August 27, 1962. It took 109 days to reach Venus, passing within 21,000 miles of the planet on December 14.  It sent back valuable information about the Venusian atmosphere and interplanetary space.

Mariner 2 was not equipped with a camera so no images of Venus are available but it did carry important scientific instrumentation:

  1. Microwave radiometer and infrared radiometer to measure temperatures of the Venusian atmosphere.
  2. Fluxgate magnetometer to measure planetary and interplanetary magnetic fields.
  3. Ionization chamber to measure high-energy cosmic radiation.
  4. Particle detector to measure lower radiation.
  5. Cosmic dust detector to measure the flux of cosmic dust particles in space.
  6. Solar Plasma Spectrometer to measure the spectrum of low-energy positively-charged particles (solar wind).

The last transmission from Mariner 2 was received January 3, 1963 and has since been in a heliocentric orbit.

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