55 Years Ago: Mariner 2 First to Venus

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In 1962, Mariner 2 finished a initial successful close-up observations of another world when it flew by Venus.  The booster done a series of critical systematic discoveries not usually about a world though also about interplanetary space during a transit.

The highway to Venus, however, was anything though easy.  Relatively small was famous about Venus during a time; since it was roughly a same distance as a Earth, scientists mostly called a dual sister planets.  Since it orbited closer to a Sun, many scientists insincere Venus was a warmer of a two, and some believed a meridian was identical to Earth’s tropics.  A immature scientist named Carl Sagan, however, due that a famous high thoroughness of CO dioxide in Venus’ atmosphere combined a exile hothouse effect, heading to intensely high temperatures during a surface.

Launch of Mariner 2.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, planned, grown and executed a initial goal to Venus in about one year.  To save growth time, JPL blending a Ranger lunar examine that it was operative on to build a Venus explorer.  The 447-ppound booster carried 7 systematic instruments weighing 49 pounds to investigate Venus’ atmosphere and temperature, hunt for a probable captivating field, and to investigate vast rays, a solar breeze and vast dirt during a outing to a planet.  Mariner 2 sent information behind to Earth during a then-blistering rate of 8-1/3 pieces per second.

Planned as a two-spacecraft project, Mariner 1 launched initial on Jul 22, 1962, though a Atlas-Agena rocket veered off-course and was broken in a initial few mins of moody – a error was traced partly to a blank hyphen in communications software.  Mariner 2 followed on Aug 27 and this time a launch was successful and a booster entered solar circuit on a approach to Venus.  During a 110-day journey, Mariner 2 sent behind profitable information about a interplanetary sourroundings including confirming a existence of a solar wind, a tide of charged particles emanating from a Sun.  The booster encountered several hardware anomalies, many of that inexplicably bound themselves.  By a time Mariner 2 approached Venus, one of a solar arrays had unsuccessful and a car came dangerously tighten to overheating, though it remained healthy adequate to finish a systematic mission.

Artist’s sense of a Mariner 2 spacecraft.

On Dec 14, Mariner 2 upheld within 21,564 miles of Venus, and continued on in solar orbit, promulgation behind a information it had collected.  It totalled a heat during Venus’ aspect during 300oF to 400oF, confirming Sagan’s hothouse outcome prediction, and a windy vigour during 20 times larger than on Earth.  Future booster would magnitude even aloft temperatures and pressures.  Previous conceptions of Venus as a pleasant breakwater had to be discarded.  Unlike Earth, Mariner 2 found that Venus has no discernible captivating margin and therefore no protecting trapped deviation belts, definition a world is constantly bombarded by vast rays.  The booster sent a final delivery on Jan 3, 1963, carrying finished a initial robotic scrutiny of another planet.

Jack James, Project Manager during JPL, after pronounced of Mariner 2, “There will be other missions to Venus, though there will never be another initial goal to Venus.”  As for JPL, Mariner 2 was a initial of dozens of missions that explored all a planets from Mercury to Neptune.

Source: NASA

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