Mariner 4 provided the first up close pictures of Mars. After a 228 day cruise, Mariner 4 passed Mars at a distance of 9,846 kilometers on July 14, 1965. During its encounter, the spacecraft took 22 television pictures that covered about 1 percent of the Martian surface. The images revealed a vast, barren wasteland of craters strewn about a rust-colored carpet of sand. Once past Mars, Mariner 4 orbited the Sun prior to returning to the vicinity of Earth again in 1967. Engineers then decided to use the aging craft for a series of operational and telemetry tests to improve their knowledge of the technologies that would be needed for future interplanetary spacecraft. All operations ceased on December 20, 1967. A sister ship, Mariner 3, was launched three weeks earlier than Mariner 4, but was lost when the launch vehicle's nose fairing failed to jettison.
Information in The Mission and Spacecraft Library is provided without warranty or guarantee. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.