Between 1962 and 1973, NASA designed and built 10 spaceships called Mariner, within the homonymous program that aimed to explore the inner Solar System, and not just Mars exploration.
For this mission the Mariner 3 and 4 ships were designed, which were intended to carry out the first overflights on Mars. These probes were the first two attempts by NASA and the United States to reach the planet Mars.
The Mariner 3 was launched on November 5, 1964, but did not reach its destination due to technical problems. Three weeks later, on November 28, 1964, the Mariner 4 spacecraft was successfully launched on an eight-month trip to the red planet, collecting the first foreground photographs of another planet.
Already in 1969 two new missions were launched, Mariner 6 and 7 for the exploration of the entire solar system and, specifically, of Mars. These ships completed the first dual mission to Mars, achieving the analysis of the Martian atmosphere and its surface, as well as a large number of images of the planet.
Mariner 8 and 9 were the third and final pair of missions in Mars exploration of the Mariner program. Both ships were designed to be the first orbiters of the red planet. This marks a transition in the exploration of the red planet, going from flying through Mars to being in orbit around it.
Unfortunately, Mariner 8 failed during its launch on May 8, 1971. However, Mariner 9 was successfully launched on May 30, 1971, and became the first artificial satellite of Mars when it arrived and entered orbit . It remained there for almost a year.
The Mariner 9 exceeded all primary photographic requirements by achieving 100% photo-mapping of Martian soil. This spacecraft also provided the first foreground images of the two small and irregular Martian moons: Phobos and Deimos.
The Mariner 9 completed its last broadcast on October 27, 1972, and with it the Mariner program ended. In this, as in other missions of the series, the great scientific popularizer participated Carl Sagan.
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