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November 24, 2014 - Game Changer

Game Changer Mariner 4, launched fifty years ago this week, became the first spacecraft to fly past Mars. When it arrived at the Red Planet in July 1965, the pictures it returned—the first up-close images of another planet—forever changed the way humans regarded Mars. Nearly a hundred years earlier, the belief that channel-like features visible from Earth were actually artificial canals fueled speculation that Mars was inhabited by a race of advanced beings. Later observations and spectroscopic studies ruled out the possibility of such water works, but the true nature of the planet—a sterile, cratered world with no sign of intelligent life—was not revealed until Mariner 4 returned a set of twenty-one stark images. This vintage depiction of Mariner 4 over Mars was based on the best pre-Mariner observations of the planet.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

November 24-30, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 24

1947: First Aerobee rocket launch
: STS-44 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Tuesday 25

1970: First powered flight of M2-F3 lifting body

Moon phase Wednesday 26

Mars 7° south of Moon

1965: France becomes third nation to launch a satellite
1975: Final X-24B lifting body flight
1985: STS-61B Atlantis launched
1989: Kvant 2 module launched
2011: Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity launched

Moon phase Thursday 27

Thanksgiving Day

Moon at perigee

1885: First photo of a meteor shower
: Mars 2 probe becomes first artificial object to hit Mars
1997: Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission launched

Moon phase Friday 28

1964: Mariner 4 launched
1983: STS-9 Columbia launched

Moon phase Saturday 29

First Qtr Moon 5:06 AM ET
Neptune 4° south of Moon

1967: First Australian satellite launched

Moon phase Sunday 30

First Sunday in Advent

1954: Elizabeth Hodges bruised by a ten-pound meteorite in Alabama
2000: STS-97 Endeavour launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.