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astronautix.com Mariner 10

Mariner 10
Mariner 10 -

Credit: NASA. 12,192 bytes. 329 x 214 pixels.



Class: Planetary. Type: Mercury. Nation: United States. Agency: NASA, JPL. Manufacturer: Boeing.

Mariner 10 was the first mission to use the gravitational attraction of one planet to reach another, the first mission with two planetary objectives, and (to date) the only mission ever to perform up close imaging and science at Mercury. The vehicle's first planetary encounter was with Venus on November 3, 1973. Mariner 10 took some 4,000 photos of Venus, which revealed a nearly round planet enveloped in smooth cloud layers. After the Venus flyby, Mariner 10 was sent towards Mercury , which it flew past at 756 km altitude on March 29, 1974. Photographs taken during the pass revealed an intensely cratered, Moon-like surface and a faint atmosphere of mostly helium. After the first flyby, Mariner 10 entered solar orbit, which permitted two more rendezvous with Mercury. On September 21, 1974, the second Mercury rendezvous provided another opportunity to photograph the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region. The third and final Mercury encounter occurred on March 16, 1975, and yielded primarily fields and particles data. The vehicle was turned off March 24, 1975 after its onboard fuel was depleted. Total mission cost was $100 million.

Spacecraft: The spacecraft structure was an eight-sided framework of magnesium and aluminum with eight electronics compartments. It measured 1.39 m diagonally and 0.457 m in depth. Two solar panels, each 2.7 m long and 0.97 m wide, were attached at the top, supporting 5.1 sq m of solar cell area. The rocket engine was liquid-fueled, with two sets of cold gas thrusters used to stabilize the spacecraft on three axes. It carried a low-gain omnidirectional antenna, composed of a honeycomb-disk parabolic reflector, 1.37 m in diameter, with focal length 55 cm. Feeds enabled the spacecraft to transmit at S- and X-band frequencies. An experimental X-band, high-frequency transmitter was flown for the first time on this spacecraft. The spacecraft carried a Canopus star tracker, located on the upper ring structure of the octagonal satellite, and acquisition sun sensors on the tips of the solar panels. The interior of the spacecraft was insulated with multilayer thermal blankets at top and bottom. A sunshade was deployed after launch to protect the spacecraft on the solar-oriented side. Solar panels produce 540 W max. NiCd batteries (20 AHr). Payload: Instruments on-board the spacecraft measured the atmospheric, surface, and physical characteristics of Mercury and Venus. Cameras, magnetometer, plasma science experiment, charged particle telescope, ultraviolet spectrometer, and infrared radiometer.


Specification

Total Mass: 526 kg.


Mariner 10 Chronology


03 November 1973 Mariner 10 first flyby of Venus

The vehicle's first planetary encounter was with Venus on November 3, 1973. Mariner 10 took some 4,000 photos of Venus, which revealed a nearly round planet enveloped in smooth cloud layers.


29 March 1974 Mariner 10 first flyby of Mercury

Mariner 10 flew past Mercury at 756 km altitude. Photographs taken during the pass revealed an intensely cratered, Moon-like surface and a faint atmosphere of mostly helium.


21 September 1974 Mariner 10 second flyby of Mercury

The second Mercury rendezvous provided another opportunity to photograph the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region.


16 March 1975 Mariner 10 third flyby of Mercury

The third and final Mercury encounter yielded primarily fields and particles data.


24 March 1975 Mariner 10 deactivated

The vehicle was turned off after its onboard fuel was depleted.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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