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Mariner 10
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Mariner 10
Mariner 10 Mission to Mercury Mariner 10 Mission to Venus

Goals: Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft sent to study Mercury. Mariner 10 also studied Venus while using the planet's gravity to modify its speed and trajectory, enabling it to reach Mercury.

Accomplishments: On its way to Mercury, Mariner 10 became the first spacecraft to use the gravity of one planet (in this case, Venus) to reach another. This has become an extremely important technique. While flying by Venus, the spacecraft took ultraviolet pictures that revealed great bands of clouds, providing data on atmospheric circulation which included upper-atmosphere wind speeds of 300 km/hr.

   

Key Dates
3 Nov 1973:  Launch (05:45 UT)
5 Feb 1974:  Venus Encounter
29 Mar 1974:  Mercury Flyby 1
21 Sep 1974:  Mercury Flyby 2
16 Mar 1975:  Mercury Flyby 3
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Mariner 10 Facts Mariner 10 was a mission of many firsts.

It was the first spacecraft to visit Mercury (right), the first to use a gravity assist and the first to visit more than one planet.

It was also the first to make multiple flybys of a planet (Mercury) and the first to use the solar wind for orientation during flight.
People Spotlight
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: 30 Nov 2010