Little Bits of History

Out of This World Photography

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 14, 2015
First TV image of Mars, hand colored

First TV image of Mars, hand colored

July 14, 1965: Out of this world close up pictures are seen on Earth for the first time. Mariner 4 was the fourth in a series of spacecraft intended for planetary exploration via flyby mode and launched by NASA and the United States. The spacecraft was launched on November 28, 1964 via an Atlas Las Vegas-3 Agena-D rocket. The launch took place from Cape Canaveral. Mariner’s octagonal frame measured 50 inches across and was 18 inches high. There were four solar panels attached at the top of the frame and these extended out for a total of 22.57 feet. In the center was mounted a high-gain antenna measuring 46 inches and next to it, on a 88 inch mast was a second low-gain antenna. The entire height of the apparatus was 9.5 feet. The launch mass of Mariner 4 was 575 pounds.

Several scientific instruments were included as part of the payload. These included a helium magnetometer, an ionization chamber and Geiger counter, a trapped radiation detector, a cosmic ray telescope, a solar plasma probe, a cosmic dust detector, and a television camera. The entire setup was powered by the 28,224 solar cells contained in the four solar panels which provided 310 watts as the spacecraft reached its destination: Mars. The telecommunications equipment aboard the ship were dual S-band transmitters and a single radio receiver and with these, data could be sent back or received from Earth. Data could also be stored on a magnetic tape recorder with a capacity of 5.24 million bits for later transmission. There are 8 million bits in a MB and 8 billion in a GB, the storage measurements for today’s smart phones. An old fashioned floppy disk had 1.44 MB of storage capacity.

The rocket launched, the payload separated 30 minutes later. Mariner 4 began cruise operations and successfully open the solar panels. The craft needed one midcourse maneuver which took place on December 5, 1964, a day later than scheduled due to communication issues. The change was completed and the ship was on her way to Mars. Her closest approach was on July 14-15, 1965. The planetary science mode was turned on and the camera sequence began at 7.18 PM, EST. A total of 21 pictures were taken using red and green filters alternately. Another picture was attempted but only 21 lines of the image were captured. The pictures covered a discontinuous line of Mars and represented about 1% of the planet’s surface.

The ship passed behind Mars from Earth’s perspective and the radio signal ceased. About an hour later, contact was once again possible as the ship reappeared and transmission of the taped images could be sent back to Earth. The transmission of the pictures continued until August 3. All pictures were sent back twice to ensure no data was lost. Mariner 4 continued to perform programmed activities and return data until October 1, 1965 when communication once again failed. Data transmission resumed late in 1967 when the cosmic dust detector began recording strikes. On December 21, 1967, communications with the ship were terminated although she continues her heliocentric orbit.

NASA is an engine of innovation and inspiration as well as the world’s premier space exploration agency, and we are well served by politicians working to keep it that way, instead of turning it into a mere jobs program, or worse, cutting its budget. – Bill Nye

By refocusing our space program on Mars for America’s future, we can restore the sense of wonder and adventure in space exploration that we knew in the summer of 1969. We won the moon race; now it’s time for us to live and work on Mars, first on its moons and then on its surface. – Buzz Aldrin

Space exploration is a force of nature unto itself that no other force in society can rival. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

We’d never have got a chance to go outside and look at the earth if it hadn’t been for space exploration and NASA. – James Lovelock

Also on this day: That’s Cool – In 1850, Dr. John Gorrie demonstrated the first air conditioner.
Darien Scheme – In 1698, Scotland tried colonizing in the Americas.
Richard Speck – In 1966, Speck went on a killing spree.
Alta, California – In 1771, a new mission was established.
Big Money – In 1969, large denomination bills were removed from circulation.

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