First Successful mission to Mars launched on this day in history

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MARS (WTVY) -- Mariner 4 was launched on November 28th, 1964. It made its fly-by of Mars over a two day period of July 14th and July 15th, 1965. The unmanned spacecraft returned the first close-up images of the planet, 21 in all.

Mariner 4 was launched on November 28th, 1964. It made its fly-by of Mars over a two day period of July 14th and July 15th, 1965. The unmanned spacecraft returned the first close-up images of the planet, 21 in all.

It seemed to show mostly barren features, but since the area photographed by Mariner 4 was only a small fraction of the surface, more would be revealed by later probes in the Mariner series. It also found that there was no magnetic field around our solar system’s fourth planet and estimated very frigid temperatures of 100 degrees below zero C on its surface.

The Mariner series would continue successful exploration of not just Mars, but Venus and Mercury as well. Paving the way to future unmanned probes, dozens of spacecraft have now dug deep—some literally—into what makes the Red Planet tick.