fifty years ago August 6, 1969 Archives

From the Archives (August 6, 1969): Ice-filled craters on Mars

Television pictures of the Martian South Pole flashed 60 million miles across space last night [August 4] showed ice-filled craters on the edge of the Polar Cap and stretching deep into the Polar region. Scientists at the jet propulsion laboratory here [Pasadena (California)] said pictures transmitted live as the Mariner-7 spacecraft soared across the Martian Pole at a height of 2,000 nautical miles were of very high quality. The pictures, which took five minutes to reach earth, revealed craters and the outlines of the Polar Cap. Mariner-7, though suffering from communications defects because of an apparent impact with a meteor last Wednesday [July 30], has sent better pictures than its twin, Mariner-6, which flashed over the Martian equatorial region a few days earlier. Dr. Robert Leighton, Director of the Mariner television experiment, announced proudly over the jet propulsion laboratory loudspeaker as the first close-up began to flicker on to television screens: “These pictures are coming to you live from Mars.” Mariner-7 swept from the equator to the South Pole and then moved behind the dark side of Mars.

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