Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tonight's Sky for August 5: Mariner 7 Flys by Mars (1969)

It was on this date in 1969 that the Mariner 7 space probe made its close flyby of Mars. Needless to say, fresh off of the Apollo 11 euphoria (the astronauts were still in quarantine), this mission was almost an afterthought at the time despite the fact that the mission was groundbreaking in itself. Flown in conjunction with Mariner 6, the twin space probes would photograph over 20% of the Martian surface, providing a far more complete picture of the Martian surface than did Mariner 4, which returned just two dozen tantalizing pictures of Mars in 1965. Additionally, both probes carried instruments that were vital in studying the composition of the Martian atmosphere and paving the way for future missions to the Red Planet. 

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