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Solar System Exploration
Mariner 2
Missions to Venus
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Mariner 02
Mariner 2 Mission to Venus

Goals: Mariner 2 was designed to fly by Venus and send back information on the planet's atmosphere and surface.

Accomplishments: Mariner 2 was the first successful mission to another planet by any country. Launched just 36 days after the failure of its twin, Mariner 1, it flew by Venus as planned at a range of 34,762 km (21,600 miles), scanning the planet's atmosphere and surface for 42 minutes.

The spacecraft showed that surface temperature on Venus was at least 797 degrees Fahrenheit (425 degrees Celsius) on both the day and night sides, hot enough to melt lead. It also showed that Venus rotates in the opposite direction from most planets in our solar system, has an atmosphere mostly of carbon dioxide with very high pressure at the planet's surface, continuous cloud cover and no detectable magnetic field. It also found the solar wind streams continuously and that the density of cosmic dust between planets is much lower than it is near Earth.

Banner links to Eyes on the Solar System Mariner 2 simulation
Key Dates
27 Aug 1962:  Launch (06:53:14 UT)
14 Dec 1962:  Venus Flyby
3 Jan 1963:  Contact Lost
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Mariner 02 Facts Mariner 2's success was celebrated with a float in the 1963 Tournament of Roses Parade (right).

The spacecraft lost attitude control en route to Venus, possibly due to collision with a small meteoroid. Gyroscopes restored control after 3 minutes.

A similar 1964 mission in the series was not used due to Mariner 2's success.
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Al Hibbs Al Hibbs
Al Hibbs decided as a five-year-old that he wanted to go to the Moon. He did qualify as an astronaut, but his legacy is in robotic exploration. Read More...
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Last Updated: 14 Dec 2012