Mariner 10

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Mariner 10 was a robotic space probe launched by NASA on November 3, 1973, to fly by the planets Mercury and Venus. It was launched approximately 2 years after Mariner 9 and was the last spacecraft in the Mariner program (Mariner 11 and 12 were purposed to the Voyager program and redesignated Voyager 1 and Voyager 2). The mission objectives were to measure Mercury's environment, atmosphere, surface, and body characteristics and to make similar investigations of Venus. Secondary objectives were to perform experiments in the interplanetary medium and to obtain experience with a dual-planet gravity assist mission.


Design and trajectory

Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to make use of an interplanetary "gravitational slingshot" maneuver, using Venus to bend its flight path and bring its perihelion down to the level of Mercury's orbit. This maneuver, inspired by the orbital mechanics calculations of the Italian scientist Giuseppe Colombo, put the spacecraft into an orbit that repeatedly brought it back to Mercury. Mariner 10 used the solar radiation pressure on its solar panels and its high-gain antenna as a means of attitude control during flight, the first spacecraft to use active solar pressure control.


Mariner 10 instruments included:

Departing the Earth/Moon system

During its first week of flight, Mariner 10 tested its camera system by returning 5 mosaics of Earth and 6 of the Moon. It also obtained photographs of the north polar region of the moon where prior coverage was poor. These provided a basis for cartographers to update lunar maps and improve the lunar control net.[1]

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