Added 1 new A* page:The big space news today was India's first Mars satellite 'Mangalyaan' enters orbit (BBC); this means that India reached the red planet on their very first try, something no other nation has accomplished. Congratulations, India!|
Mangalyaan (which means "Mars-craft") has already had its first photo from Mars tweeted; a bit blurry, maybe, but compare that tweeted photo with the first American close-up photo, taken by Mariner 4:
image by NASA/NSSDC/GSFC (source)
Granted, that was taken July 15, 1965, but it's still pretty grainy even by then-contemporary space standards—still, it *is* the first-ever up-close (well, 17,000 km away) photo mankind took of another planet—and the image was actually first seen on TV as rendered by NASA in pastel crayons, because it was faster to draw the ones and zeros Mariner 4 was sending back (Mariner 4 would send about 634 KB, total) by hand than waiting for the computers to process them, which would take hours. That wasn't a problem for Mangalyaan, apparently. ^_^
And speaking of the Mariner program, remember how I said India was the first nation to reach Mars on its first try? Well, Mariner 3 had launched three weeks before Mariner 4, "but the shroud encasing the spacecraft atop its rocket failed to open properly, and Mariner 3 did not get to Mars. Unable to collect the Sun's energy for power from its solar panels, the probe soon died when its batteries ran out and is now derelict in a solar orbit." (Wikipedia) (The planet Venus was the target for Mariners 1 and 2, in 1962—and again, the first try was a failure, going off-course and being remotely destroyed five minutes after lift-off; Mariner 2 did make it to Venus, but didn't capture the first up-close photo of another planet because "due to the planet's thick, featureless cloud cover, no cameras were included" (Wikipedia).) AND the Mariner probes didn't even try to enter orbit, as Mangalyaan has done successfully; they were just fly-bys, trying to collect as much data as possible on their single pass of a planet.