Hand-colored data from Mariner 4, the “first TV image of Mars,” captured on July 15, 1965. Via Dan Goods.
In November 1964 NASA launched Mariner 4, the fourth of its ambitious series of robotic explorations of our three inner planet neighbors. Mariner 1 was lost during launch; Mariner 2 successfully flew past Venus; Mariner 3 failed to deploy; but on July 14–15, 1965, the 575-lb Mariner 4 became the first spacecraft to fly past Mars and capture close-up images of another planet from space.
Of course the pictures that Mariner 4 captured were in greyscale and not like the beautiful color views we are used to seeing from spacecraft today. But thanks to one creative scientist at NASA (and a box of crayons) our first scenes of Mars from space were in brilliant color.
The 21 images of Mars successfully captured by Mariner 4 were taken with its TV camera and stored on an onboard tape recorder to be transmitted back to Earth over the following three weeks as part of the 5.2Mb of data acquired during the flyby.
Scientists assemble a ticker-tape mosaic of Mars from Mariner 4 data in 1965. (NASA/JPL)
The first of these images, a curved ...