Monday, November 3, 2014

Tonight's Sky for November 3: Mariner 10 Launched (1973)

It was on this date in 1973 that the first spacecraft destined to visit Mercury was launched. Rather than enter orbit around the speedy planet, Mariner 10 made 3 fly-bys of Mercury in 1974 and was, until the advent of Messenger in 2011 (which entered orbit around the planet), the only spacecraft to visit Mercury. By mission's end, Mariner 10 mapped around 40% of Mercury's surface and took nearly 3,000 photos, revealing a stark, desolate, Moon-like landscape that would not be revisited for nearly 4 decades. 

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