The Mariner 6 spacecraft began nearing Mars Wednesday (29 July) and transmitted the first pictures of the planet from a distance of 58-million miles.
(In sequence) TV/radio receiver antenna; technician and monitoring equipment; picture of Mars being formed on television screen; scientists watching; picture of Mars on screen and flashing of television signal pul???
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Background: The Mariner 6 spacecraft began nearing Mars Wednesday (29 July) and transmitted the first pictures of the planet from a distance of 58-million miles.
Early Wednesday evening, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California sent a radio signal to the 850-pound space probe, instructing it to began transmitting back television pictures. The pictures were taken and automatically recorded on magnetic tape the previous evening.
The pictures was formed by pulses, each arriving every two second and slowly building up an image of the planet from more than 700-thousand miles. Each picture took more than five minutes to complete the time required for a signal from the spacecraft to reach Earth.
The first picture showed the planet on it's side, with the ??? equator vertical, At the right end was the so-called 'South polar cap'. The egg-shape was because par of it was in night shadow.
Thirty-two pictures of Mars were received Wednesday night, the nearest from a distance of 450-thousand miles. Mariner 6 will pass within 2,000 miles of Mars on third day of the photographic mission and scientists hope the last pictures will provide the best close-views yet seen.
As Mariner 6 is completing its mission, a second Mariner space craft-number 7 - will begin sending back a second series of pictures. In all, scientists plan to receive 143 pictures of the planet cover approximately 40 per cent of its surfaces. Pictures so far receive are far superior to the first pictures of Mars sent back by Mariner in 1965. The space probes carry measuring instruments as well as cameras, to determine whether the planet can harbour life.