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This Day in History, 1965: Mariner Flyby of Mars

Forty years ago today, the Mariner 4 spacecraft flew past Mars, giving us our first close-up pictures of another planet. A copy of the first photograph it took of Mars can be found here.

The pictures, played back from a small tape recorder over a long period, showed lunar-type impact craters, some of them touched with frost in the chill Martian evening. The Mariner 4 spacecraft, expected to survive something more than the eight months to Mars encounter, actually lasted about three years in solar orbit, continuing long-term studies of the solar wind environment and making coordinated measurements with Mariner 5, a sister ship launched to Venus in 1967.

References:
Wikipedia entry: Mariner Program
Wikipedia entry: Mariner 4
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