The Mariner IV spacecraft, which made the first close-up photographs of Mars last July 14, took more television pictures late yesterday--this time of black space--the National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported today.
Project officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. said Mariner's TV camera took and recorded 10-1/2 pictures during a 12-minute period shortly after 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
Five of the pictures of empty space are being transmitted to Earth so that scientists will have calibration information for comparison with the pictures of Mars. The comparison is expected to help in determining whether the haze or fog that appeared in some of the Mars pictures was indeed a planet feature or a flaw in the instrument.
The calibration sequence began at 1:30 p.m. PDT yesterday and included the transmission of eight commands to the spacecraft from the Goldstone Tracking Station in California.
The pictures were recorded on the first track of the tape which stored the Mars pictures 48 days ago when Mariner IV flew by the planet at an altitude of 6118 miles. Playback of the black space picture data began about seven o'clock last night and will continue through Wednesday night.
Mariner IV has flown 276 days since launch November 28, 1964. It is now more than 171 million miles from Earth, 11 million miles from Mars and has flown 381 million miles in its orbit around the sun.
News Media Contact818-354-5011