Mariners and Vikings

The U.S. Mariner program launched probes designed to make close approaches to Mars, Venus, and Mercury. Mariner 2 (1962) and Mariner 5 (1967) analyzed the atmosphere of Venus. Mariner 4 (1964) and 6 and 7 (both 1969) photographed the Martian surface, as well as analyzed the planet's atmosphere. Mariners 6 and 7 also used infrared instruments to create thermal maps of the Martian surface, and, in 1971, Mariner 9, in orbit around Mars, transmitted television pictures of the planetary surface. Mariner 10, launched in 1973, was the first spacecraft to make a close approach to Mercury and photograph its surface.

But even more exciting were the two Viking missions, launched in 1975. The following year, both made successful soft landings on Mars and conducted extensive analysis of the Martian surface.

The Viking 1 spacecraft consisted of an orbiter and a lander. The orbiter studied the planet and its atmosphere from orbit. The lander actually touched down on the Martian surface, where it studied atmosphere, wind, and soil composition.

(Image from NASA)

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

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