An Interplanetary Mariner Sets Sail

Fifty years ago today — August 27, 1962 — an Atlas Agena launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying the Mariner 2 spacecraft toward a rendezvous with the planet Venus.

(Mariner 2. NASA image.)

Mariner 2 passed Venus on December 14, 1962, becoming the first spacecraft to successfully perform a planetary flyby.

Mariner 2 was a backup for the Mariner 1 mission which failed shortly after launch to Venus. The objective of the Mariner 2 mission was to fly by Venus and return data on the planet’s atmosphere, magnetic field, charged particle environment, and mass. It also made measurements of the interplanetary medium during its cruise to Venus and after the flyby.

In other space history, on this date 35 years ago, the Italian communications and scientific satellite Sirio A was launched from Cape Canaveral by Delta rocket.

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