Image of Mariner 4
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The 10 Mariner missions of the 1960's and early 70's were all flybys designed to visit nearby planets in our solar system. Seven were successful, reaching Venus, Mars, and Mercury.
Mariner 2 was the first interplanetary spacecraft, successfully travelling to Venus in 1962 and discovering a surface temperature of 425oC (800oF). The fifth Mariner mission visited Venus five years later, and used radio waves to probe its atmosphere.
Our first close-up glimpse of planet Mars was from Mariner 4 in 1965, and revealed a terrain littered with ancient craters. Mariners 6, 7, and 9 also reached the red planet, returning information on its surface and atmospheric composition. The ninth mission, in particular, mapped 100% of the Martian surface and photographed its two moons, Pheibos and Demios.
Mariner 10 was the last in the Mariner sequence, and flew close to both Venus and Mercury.
Some of the data returned from these spacecraft are shown in the image archive below.
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