Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mariner 10



marine10.jpg
Mariner 10
Credit: NASA
American Mercury probe. One launch, 1973.11.03.

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 3 November 1973. Mariner 10 took some 4,000 photos of Venus, which revealed a nearly round planet enveloped in smooth cloud layers. The Venus flyby deflected Mariner 10's trajectory towards Mercury , which it flew past at 756 km altitude on 29 March 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's solar orbit permitted two more rendezvous with Mercury. On 21 September 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 16 March 1975, and yielded primarily fields and particles data. The vehicle was turned off on 24 March 1975 after its onboard fuel was depleted. Total mission cost was $100 million.

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 maximum and recharged NiCd batteries (20 AHr). Instruments on board the spacecraft measured the atmospheric, surface, and physical characteristics of Mercury and Venus. These included cameras, a magnetometer, a plasma science experiment, a charged particle telescope, an ultraviolet spectrometer, and an infrared radiometer.

Gross mass: 526 kg (1,159 lb).
First Launch: 1973.11.03.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • Boeing American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Boeing Aerospace, Seattle, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mariner Mariner spacecraft were built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for early exploration of the nearby planets. The Mariner series became the first spacecraft to return significant data on the surface and atmosphere conditions of Venus, Mars, and Mercury. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 1998.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Mariner to Mercury, Venus and Mars Fact Sheet, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, The Voyage of Mariner 10: Missions to Venus and Mercury, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Atlas of Mercury; Mariner 10 Mission, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC36B Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas Centaur launch pad, in service from 1964 until the retirement of the launch vehicle. More...

Mariner 10 Chronology


1973 November 3 - .
  • Mariner 10 first flyby of Venus - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. Summary: 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..

1973 November 3 - . 05:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3D. LV Configuration: SLV-3D Centaur AC-34 / Centaur D-1AR 5014D.
  • Mariner 10 - . Payload: Mariner 73J. Mass: 526 kg (1,159 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Program: Mariner. Class: Mercury. Type: Mercury probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. USAF Sat Cat: 6919 . COSPAR: 1973-085A. Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to reach Mercury. Mariner 10 was placed in a parking orbit for 25 minutes after launch, then accelerated to a trans-Venus escape trajectory. The television and ultraviolet experiments were trained on the comet Kohoutek while the spacecraft was en route to its destination. The vehicle's first planetary encounter was with Venus on February 5, 1974, at a distance of 4200 km. Mariner 10 took 4,000 photos of Venus, which revealed a nearly round planet enveloped in smooth cloud layers. The gravity of Venus bent the orbit of the spacecraft and sent it towards Mercury. It crossed the orbit of Mercury on March 29, 1974, at 20:46 GMT, at a distance of 704 km from the surface. 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, at an altitude of about 47,000 km, provided another opportunity to photograph the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region. The third and final Mercury encounter on March 16, 1975, at an altitude of 327 km, yielded 300 photographs and magnetic field measurements. The vehicle was turned off March 24, 1975 when the supply of attitude-control gas was depleted.

1974 February 5 - .
  • Mariner 10, Venus Flyby - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10.

1974 March 29 - .
  • Mariner 10, first Mercury Flyby - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10.

1974 March 29 - .
  • Mariner 10 first flyby of Mercury - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. Summary: 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..

1974 September 21 - .
  • Mariner 10, second Mercury Flyby - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10.

1974 September 21 - .
  • Mariner 10 second flyby of Mercury - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. Summary: The second Mercury rendezvous provided another opportunity to photograph the sunlit side of the planet and the south polar region..

1975 March 16 - .
  • Mariner 10, third Mercury Flyby - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10.

1975 March 16 - .
  • Mariner 10 third flyby of Mercury - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. Summary: The third and final Mercury encounter yielded primarily fields and particles data..

1975 March 24 - .
  • Mariner 10 deactivated - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Mariner 10. Summary: The vehicle was turned off after its onboard fuel was depleted..

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