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On This Day: Mariner 2 Was Launched

On this day, in 1962, Mariner 2 was launched by NASA.  In December of the same year it flew past Venus, becoming the first space probe to make a successful fly-by encounter with another planet.

Designed and built by the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech, the probe carried a variety of scientific instruments designed to gather magnetic, temperature and radiation data and transmit it back to Earth.  It passed within 35,000 kilometres of Venus, continuiing on towards the Sun, where it remains in a heliocentric orbit.

This illustration from the NASA website shows the Mariner 2 probe and identifies its main components:

 

 

You can read more about the Mariner 2 mission at the JPL section of the NASA website.