Photographs of Mars relayed by the American Mariner 9 spacecraft proved to be disappointing last week as a raging dust storm virtually blotted bout the planet's surface features.
SV ZOOM IN Model of Mars probe in orbit
SV INT. Monitoring screens
Series of stills of Mars taken on Thursday, voice of Dr Hibbs, Mariner controller explains
Series of stills taken from closer to planet
TRANSCRIPT: (SEQ 3) MARINER CONTROLLER DR. ALBERT HIBBS: "On Thursday, when the Mariner spacecraft was about 400,000 miles away from Mars it began to take a series of pictures in which the scientists hoped to see some of the features that they have seen so clearly in the pictures taken by Mariner 69. But the surface of Mars is covered with a mysterious yellow mist, quite often called a dust cloud, although its exact nature is not really well understood. Up near the top of these pictures, occasionally you can see a small white speck. This is about what's left of the polar cap at the South Pole of Mars. Then, on Friday, some more pictures, still closer, now 300,000 miles out and getting closer down to 160,000 miles away - closer to Mars than the moon is to the earth...and a few features beginning slowly to show, but very faint, though still sings of a dust cloud. The dust cloud itself, although frustrating from the point of view of looking at Mantian features, is a scientific curiosity.
Initials SGM/0000 SGM/0029
The film has commentary by an official of the Mariner programme. An alternative written commentary is attached.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Photographs of Mars relayed by the American Mariner 9 spacecraft proved to be disappointing last week as a raging dust storm virtually blotted bout the planet's surface features.
The first batch of pre-orbit pictures - played back on Thursday (11 November) were far less clear than those taken from a similar distance in 1969 by the Mariner-7 fly-by mission. A further 31 pictures, taken from a range of between 325,0800 and 160, 000 miles (520,000 and 250,000 kms) by the spacecraft's two television cameras were again indistinct.
But attention focussed on the storm itself -unique in its size and duration. Scientists monitoring the results in Pasadena said a black spot they had detected through the dust could be the central peak of a very large crater.
On Saturday Mariner 9 swung into orbit around Mars on the last lap of its 248-million-mile (400 million km) journey to the planet. By doing so it became the first man-made object to circle another planet.
SYNOPSIS: America's Mariner 9 spacecraft climaxed its 248-million mile voyage to Mars on Saturday by swinging into orbit round the planet.
Meanwhile scientists in Pasadena were hoping for better pictures from the planet than those received the two previous days. On Thursday a raging dust storm virtually blotted out the planet's surface features on pictures relayed by the spacecraft's two television cameras. But despite the mysterious yellow mist - which has covered Mars for the past seven weeks - a small white peak can be seen near the top of the pictures. This is the remainder of the Polar cap at the South Pole of the planet.
Then, on Friday, more pictures - getting as close as 160,000 miles away - began to reveal what scientists believe could be the central peak of a very large crater. Mariner 9, now closer to Mars than the Moon is to the earth, radioed back a further 31 pictures. Although they have not yet matched those taken by in 1969 by the Mariner-7 fly-by mission, the present spacecraft is the first man-made object to orbit another planet.