These are the first ever images of Mars. The first one was captured by Mariner 4, which after an eight-month voyage to Mars, made the first flyby of the red planet, becoming the first spacecraft to take close-up photographs of another planet. According to NASA, “The images show lunar-type impact craters, some of them touched with frost in the chill Martian evening.”
The image below was transmitted on July 15, 1965 by Mariner 4, from 7,829 miles away and shows a 94-mile diameter crater. The spaceccraft was not originally expected to survive beyond the flyby but it lasted about three years in solar orbit and continued long-term studies of the solar wind environment. It also made coordinated measurements with Mariner 5, a sister ship launched to Venus in 1967.
And this second image was captured by the Viking 1 lander shortly after it touched down on Mars – the first photograph ever taken from the surface of Mars taken on July 20, 1976. According to NASA, “The primary objectives of the Viking mission, which was composed of two spacecraft, were to obtain high-resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface and search for evidence of life on Mars.”
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