Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Dare Mighty Things: 50th Anniversary of Planetary Exploration and 1st Trek to Venus
Fifty years ago on a mid-December day (Dec. 14, 1962), NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft sailed close to the shrouded planet Venus, marking the first time any spacecraft had ever successfully made a close-up study of another planet. The flyby, 36 million miles (58 million kilometers) away from Earth, gave America its first bona fide space "first" after five years in which the Soviet Union led with several space exploration milestones. Designed and built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the successful Mariner 2 spacecraft ushered in a new era of solar system exploration. More from NASA/JPL.