Mariner 4
July 14, 1965

 

Close-up photo of Mars taken by the Mariner 4
Photo of Mars taken by Mariner 4

 
After an eight-month voyage to Mars, Mariner 4 makes the first flyby of the red planet, becoming the first spacecraft to take close-up photographs of another planet. The images show lunar-type impact craters, some of them touched with frost in the chill Martian evening. A television camera onboard takes 22 pictures, covering about 1% of the planet. Initially stored on a 4-track tape recorder, these pictures take four days to transmit back to Earth.

Although originally not expected to survive much past the Mars flyby encounter, Mariner 4 lasts about three years in solar orbit, continuing long-term studies of the solar wind environment and making coordinated measurements with Mariner 5, a sister ship launched to Venus in 1967.

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