Red Planet Day

Time to totally SPACE OUT.


It is another crazy day – rushing to work, running into a meeting, picking up the kids after school, preparing a ‘healthy’ dinner, and hopefully getting to bed at a decent hour before you wake up and have to do it all over again. Often times, we as normal human beings get so caught up in our own lives, we lose sight of the bigger picture and all of the amazing aspects of our world. AND – of our solar system!

Did you know today is Red Planet Day? Don’t worry if you have no idea what we’re talking about – it may be pretty unfamiliar to most. But, each year on November 28th, we are reminded and commemorate the initial launch of Mariner 4 which was the first spacecraft to obtain and transmit close range images of MARS. How cool is that? We forget that the universe is so much more than our stressful days and busy schedules. Take the time to learn more about that mysterious red planet up in the night sky.
Here are a few quick facts about Red Planet Day!
  • The Mariner 4 launched on November 28, 1964 and became the first satellite to take the first up close pictures of any planet other other than Earth.
  • The first successful flyby of Mars allowed the Mariner 4 to return the first pictures of the Martian surface ever to be seen.
  • The satellite did not actually fly by Mars until July 14th and July 15th of 1965. Its closest approach was 9,846 km from the surface on July 15th.
  • It took 4 days to transmit the image information to Earth. The Mariner 4 returned useful data until October 1965. The distance from Earth and its antenna orientation restricted the signal to Earth for a period of time. Data acquisition later resumed late in 1967.
  • On December 21, 1967, communications with the Mariner 4 were terminated.

The first close-up image ever taken of Mars, captured by NASA’s Mariner 4 spacecraft on July 15, 1965. (Credit: NASA)

Thank you Mariner 4 for providing further insight beyond Planet Earth! So what did the photos of Mars reveal? According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “There were more than 70 clearly distinguishable craters ranging in diameter from 4 to 120 km. It seems likely that smaller craters exist; there also may be still larger craters, since mariner 4 photographed, in all, about one percent of the Martian surface.” Pretty crazy to think about worlds beyond our own. There may be a lot going on down on Earth – but, just imagine what’s happening miles and miles into the sky! Just another reminder to keep everything in perspective.
 Happy Red Planet Day!

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