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Image of Mariner 10
NASA/JPL

Mariner 10

Mariner 10 was launched on Nov. 3, 1973, intended as a flyby of planets Venus and Mercury. It passed Venus in February of 1974, returning over 4000 photographs of the thick cloud cover which surrounds the planet, and information on the atmosphere composition.

Mariner 10 then used the gravitational pull of Venus to accelerate itself toward Mercury, becoming the first spacecraft to visit that planet, on March 29, 1974. During the next year, two more flybys produced a total of 10,000 images, revealing a heavily-cratered surface similar to that on our Moon.

After mapping 57% of Mercury, Mariner 10 ran out of energy and is now in an orbit around the Sun.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA