NASA’s historic flyby of Pluto completes 50 years of planetary reconnaissance missions.
In a coincidence of astronomical proportions, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has conducted the first flyby of Pluto on the 50th anniversary of the first flyby of Mars. NASA’s Mariner 4 probe became the first spacecraft to capture up-close images of another planet when it flew past Mars on July 14, 1965.
“50 years ago today, the first spacecraft flew by Mars — it was called Mariner 4 — and I think it’s fitting that on that 50th anniversary we complete the initial reconnaissance of the planets with the exploration of Pluto.” New Horizons principle investigator Alan Stern said at a press conference following the historic flyby of Pluto.
[New Horizons Captures First High Resolution Image Of Pluto]
Image Credit: NASA
While NASA’s Mariner 2 space probe was the first spacecraft to perform a flyby of another planet when it made its closest approach to Venus on Dec. 14, 1962, due to launch vehicle constraints it was not able to carry a camera among its scientific instruments.
However, this was not the first “cosmic coincidence” the New Horizon spacecraft has experienced on its nearly decade long journey through ...