Monday, November 28, 2016
Mariner 4, first spacecraft to fly past Mars, launched 1965
Mariner 4, launched November 28, 1965, was the first spacecraft to perform a flyby past Mars, answering the burning questions about life on the Red Planet.
It was the first spacecraft to navigate using the stars, like mariners did in old times. Mariner 4 sent back data at a staggering, blistering speed of 8 1/2 bytes/minute! While they waited, scientists used pastel set to color paint-by-number style the first images from Mars. Its signals helped scientists determine the Red Planet had a thin atmosphere.
The wait was worth it as Mariner 4 took the first photos of the surface of Mars on July 14-15, 1965, passing within 9,846 km from the surface of Mars. Communications were terminated with the spacecraft on December 21, 1967.