On this day: December 14, 1962
December 14th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

On this day: December 14, 1962

On this day in 1962, the US spacecraft Mariner 2 flew past Venus.

Mariner 2 was the first planetary spacecraft to fly, acting as a backup to Mariner 1, which failed shortly after launch. By the time Mariner 2 approached Venus, it had lost a solar panel and possibly collided with a small object.

At its closest, Mariner 2 was 34,773 km from Venus.

The spacecraft carried science instruments that discovered Venus' hot surface temperatures and high surface pressure. Mariner 2 also revealed that Venus has an atmosphere made up mostly of carbon dioxide and perpetual cloud cover.

Mariner 2 also helped determine that solar winds are continuously streaming in the space between the planets.

Filed under: On this Day
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Snow

    Seems like we are living in the shadows of glory days..

    December 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • MIB

      yeah to bad so many people think that space exploration is a waste of money.

      December 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm |


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