Friday, 28 November 2014

NASA Celebrates 50th Anniversary of First Mars Mission..........

The Mariner 4 mission, NASA's first successful journey to another world, launched 50 years ago, on November 28, 1964.
Mariner 4 flew past Mars on July 15, 1965, sending back the first images ever taken of another world from beyond the Earth-Moon system. These 21 historic photographs were taken from a distance of just 6,000 miles from the Red Planet. As the robotic explorer passed the alien world, it recorded information on surface temperatures of Mars, as well as measuring the magnetic field and atmospheric pressure of the planet.
"A television camera onboard takes 22 pictures, covering about 1% of the planet. Initially stored on a 4-track tape recorder, these pictures take four days to transmit back to Earth," Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported.
Many observers on Earth hoped the first flyby of Mars would reveal a world alive with life, perhaps an intelligent civilization. However, Mariner 4 revealed a frigid, arid world, presenting harsh conditions for any life that would ever form on the tawny surface.
Uwingu, a space funding corporation, marked the anniversary of Mariner 4's launch by sending a series of messages, by radio, to the Red Planet. Messages and pictures beamed to Mars included greetings from Star Trek alumnus George Takei, astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Bill Nye. Greetings from Earth were sent to the alien world utilizing the Universal Space Network, at a rate of one million bits per second.
Nearly 90,000 digital messages, part of the Beam Me to Mars project, were sent at 3 p.m, EST on November 28, arrived at their destination roughly 15 minutes after they were broadcast. The entire set of messages were repeated, as a tribute to Mariner 4. Images sent from that pioneering space vehicle was sent twice, to correct for missing or corrupted data. Participants in the new project were charged between $4.95 to send just their names, and $99 for an image and long message.
"Though no one is on Mars yet to receive the messages, here on Earth people will hear them loud and clear! The entire Beam Me message archive will be searchable from our web site by anyone with access to the Internet. And all messages can be socially shared with friends, relatives, anyone in your social networks," Uwingu announced on their Web site.
In the last 50 years, spacecraft and computer technology has advanced tremendously. The Rosetta observatory, currently studying Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is able to store 25 gigabits of data, 4,771 times the storage capacity of its predecessor.
Mariner 4 remained operational long after its planned eight-month mission life. Engineers at NASA last  communicated with the craft on December 21, 1967.