Tag Archives: Mars

25 January 2004, 05:05 UTC SCET

"The interior of a crater surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on Mars can be seen in this color image from the rover's panoramic camera. This is the darkest landing site ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars. The rim of the crater is approximately 10 meters (32 feet) from the rover. The crater is estimated to be 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter. Scientists are intrigued by the abundance of rock outcrops dispersed throughout the crater, as well as the crater's soil, which appears to be a mixture of coarse gray grains and fine reddish grains. Data taken from the camera's near-infrared, green and blue filters were combined to create this approximate true color picture, taken on the first day of Opportunity's journey. The view is to the west-southwest of the rover."
“The interior of a crater surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity at Meridiani Planum on Mars can be seen in this color image from the rover’s panoramic camera. This is the darkest landing site ever visited by a spacecraft on Mars. The rim of the crater is approximately 10 meters (32 feet) from the rover. The crater is estimated to be 20 meters (65 feet) in diameter. Scientists are intrigued by the abundance of rock outcrops dispersed throughout the crater, as well as the crater’s soil, which appears to be a mixture of coarse gray grains and fine reddish grains. Data taken from the camera’s near-infrared, green and blue filters were combined to create this approximate true color picture, taken on the first day of Opportunity’s journey. The view is to the west-southwest of the rover.” (NASA Jet propulsion Laboratory)

25 January 2004: Mars Exploration Rover–B, named Opportunity, landed at Meridiani Planum on the surface of Mars at 5:05 a.m., UTC SCET (Spacecraft Event Time) and rolled into a small crater, approximately 22 meters (72 feet) in diameter.

Meridiani Planum is near the center of this image of Mars, photographed from the Mars Orbiter Mission, 28 September 2014, at an altitude of 74,582 kilometers (46,343 miles). (The Bruce Murray Space Image Library)

The crater would later be named Eagle Crater, and the landing site is named Challenger Memorial Station. The site is on the opposite side of the planet from Opportunity‘s twin, MER-A, Spirit.

“This image taken by the panoramic camera onboard the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the rover’s now-empty lander, the Challenger Memorial Station, at Meridiani Planum, Mars. The image was acquired on the 24th martian day, or sol, of Opportunity’s mission at approximately 13:00 Local Solar Time. This is a mosaic image consisting of 12 color images acquired with the camera’s red, green and blue filters. The color balance has been set to approximate the colors that a human eye would see.” (NASA/JPL/Cornell)
Artist’s conception of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars. (JPL)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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4 January 2004

Mars rover Spirit landing site. The lander is at the low center of the image. at upper left are the backshell and parachute. The lander's heat shield is at the upper right on the rim of the crater. This image was taken in December 2006. (NASA)
Mars rover Spirit landing site. The lander is at the low center of the image. At upper left are the backshell and parachute. The lander’s heat shield is at the upper right on the rim of the crater. This image was taken in December 2006. (NASA)

4 January 2004, 04:35 Ground UTC: The NASA Mars Exploration Rover A, named Spirit, landed on the surface of Mars within the large impact crater Gusev. The location of touch down and the starting point for the rover’s exploration of Mars is named Columbia Memorial Station.

Spirit captured this color image of the surface of Mars from its landing point at Columbia Memorial Station. The horizon is approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) distant. (NASA)
Spirit captured this color image of the surface of Mars from its landing point at Columbia Memorial Station. The horizon is approximately 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) distant. (NASA)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 November 1964, 14:22:01 UTC, T minus Zero

Mariner 4 lifts off from LC-12, Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, 14:22:01 UTC, 28 November 1964. (NASA)
Mariner 4 lifts off from LC-12, Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, 9:22 a.m. EST, 28 November 1964. (NASA)

28 November 1964, 14:22:01 UTC, T minus Zero: Mariner 4, a space probe designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), lifted off from Launch Complex 12 at the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station, Cape Kennedy, Florida. The two-stage launch vehicle consisted of an Atlas D, number 288, and an Agena D, number 6932.

The Mariner 4/Agena D separated from the first stage Atlas booster at 14:27:23 UTC. A 2 minute, 24 second burn placed the Mariner/Agena in an Earth orbit. At 15:02:53, a one minute, 35 second burn placed the vehicle into a Mars Transfer Orbit. Mariner 4 separated from the Agena D at 15:07:09 UTC. Mariner then went into cruise mode.

Mariner 4 (NASA)
Mariner 4 during Weight Test (NASA/JPL 293_7150Bc)

The mission of Mariner 4 was to “fly by” Mars to take photographic images and gather scientific data, then relay this to tracking stations on Earth. The spacecraft carried an imaging system, cosmic dust detector, cosmic-ray telescope, magnetometer, radiation detector, solar plasma probe and an occultation experiment.

Mariner 4 overall height, including the mast, was 289 centimeters. The body of the spacecraft had a width of 127 centimeters (4 feet, 2 inches) across the diagonal, and was 45.7 centimeters (1 foot, 6 inches high. 260.8 kilograms (118.3 pounds). Power was supplied by four solar panels, each 176 centimeters (5 feet, 9.3 inches) long and 90 centimeters (2 feet, 11.4 inches) wide. The panels had 28,224 individual solar cells capable of producing 310 watts at Mars.

The rocket, a “1-½ stage” liquid-fueled Atlas LV-3, number 228, was built by the Convair Division of General Dynamics at San Diego, California. It was developed from a U.S. Air Force SM-65 Atlas D intercontinental ballistic missile, modified for use as an orbital launch vehicle.

The LV-3 was 65 feet (19.812 meters) long from the base to the adapter section, and the tank section is 10 feet (3.038 meters) in diameter. The complete Atlas-Agena D orbital launch vehicle is 93 feet (28.436 meters) tall. When ready for launch it weighed approximately 260,000 pounds (117,934 kilograms).

The Atlas’ three engines were built by the Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation, Inc., at Canoga Park, California. Two Rocketdyne LR89-NA-5 engines and one LR105-NA-5 produced 341,140 pounds (1,517.466 kilonewtons) of thrust. The rocket was fueled by a highly-refined kerosene, RP-1, with liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.

The second stage was an Agena D, built by Lockheed Missiles and Space Systems, Sunnyvale, California. This engine was capable of being restarted in orbit. The Agena D was 20 feet, 6 inches (6.299 meters) long and had a maximum diameter of 5 feet, 0 inches (1.524 meters). It was also liquid fueled, but used a hypergolic mixture of nitric acid and UDMH. The single engine was a Bell Aerosystems Company LR81-BA-11, with 16,000 pounds of thrust (71.1 kilonewtons).

Mariner 4 made its closest approach to Mars, 9,846 kilometers (6,118 miles) on 15 July 1965. The final contact with the probe occurred on 21 December 1967.

The first photographic image of Mars was captured by Mariner 4’s imaging system on 15 July 1965 and was transmitted to Earth the following day. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Digital image o fthe surface of Mars, 14 July 1965. (NASA)
Digital image of the surface of Mars, 14 July 1965. (NASA)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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20 August 1975

Viking 1/Titan IIIE-Centaur launches from Kennedy Space Centaur, enroute to Mars, 20 August 1975. (NASA)

20 August 1975: The Viking 1 space probe was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Titan IIIE/Centaur rocket. For the next ten months it traveled to Mars, the fourth planet of the Solar System. Once there, it was placed in orbit and began sending telemetry data back to Earth. A Viking Lander descended to the planet’s surface, landing at Chryse Planitia.

This was the first time that a spacecraft had landed on another planet. The orbiter continued to operate over the course of 1,485 orbits. As it ran low on fuel, mission controllers boosted it into a higher orbit to prevent it falling to the planet. Orbiter operations were terminated 17 August 1980. The lander operated for 6 years, 116 days, before the mission was terminated by a faulty transmission which resulted in a loss of contact, 11 November 1982.

The surface of Chryse Planitia, Mars, photographed by the Viking 1 Lander. (NASA)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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14 July 1965

14 July 1965: At 8:00:57 a.m., EST, 7 months, 14 days after its launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the space probe Mariner 4 made its closest approach to Mars. It came within 6,080 miles (9,846 kilometers) of the surface and took 21 full digital images and a portion of a 22nd. These images were stored on magnetic tape and later transmitted to Earth. 5.6 million bits of data were received.

Mariner 4 was a 574 pound (260.68 kilogram) interplanetary spacecraft, controlled by radio signals from Earth. It was launched 28 November 1964 from Launch Complex 12 at the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. The launch vehicle was a three-stage liquid-fueled Atlas D/Agena rocket. Mariner 4 continued to perform experiments and send signals back to Earth until 21 December 1967. It was 192,100,000 miles (309,154,982.4 kilometers) from home. Today, it is in orbit around the sun.

Mariner 4 digital image of Mars surface, 14 July 1965. (NASA)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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