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NASA rejoices 50th anniversary of Mariner task to Mars

NASA rejoices 50th anniversary of Mariner task to Mars

NEW YORK: NASA completed 50 years to launch its Mariner 4 – NASA’s first mission to Mars, and the US space agency has celebrated the main landmark.
Launched on November 28 1964, Mariner 4 took eight months to reach the Red Planet, snapping several images of Mars as it flew past on July 15 1965. The first images of the planet taken from such a short distance away – only around 6,000 miles – were transmitted back to Earth; the process took four long days for NASA to receive the 22 photographs. Around 1 percent of the surface of the planet was mapped by the exploratory probe, which also measured the planet’s surface temperatures, its atmospheric pressure and its magnetic field.
In order to commemorate the momentous occasion, space funding corporation Uwingu sent a series of radio messages to Mars. Pictures and audio messages beamed to the Red Planet included those from science educator Bill Nye, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Star Trek actor George Takei, who had begun filming the science fiction television series just one year after Mariner 4 flew past the planet. The one million bit per second Universal Space Network sent the messages to the alien world.
The messages arrived much sooner than those initial 22 pictures. At 3 PM on November 28, the packet of almost 90,000 images and audio snippets reached Mars after just 15 minutes. The project charged participants as little as $4.95 to send just their names, or as much as $99 to include a personalized message and an accompanying image.
Uwingu said that while there’s no one on Mars save a few NASA rovers right now, the entire archive of the messages will be available on the company’s website for access to anyone with an Internet connection. Each and every message can be shared across social media platforms, Uwingu added.
The last 50 years have seen incredible advances in space technologies, as evidenced by the European Space Agency’s recently successful Rosetta mission. Launched in 2004, the Rosetta satellite made its rendezvous with Comet 67P earlier this year, settling into orbit around the comet to begin its studies; Rosetta has 25 gigabits of data storage – more than 4,700 times the amount of data Mariner 4 was able to store.