For a long time, man has seen Venus as Earth’s twin because her size and that of Earth were the same. Little did we know that we were in for a shock.
To do that in a cost-effective manner, they refurbished the satellite that had been built to serve as a backup for the Mariner 4 mission which had proven to be successful.
When you have to go closer to the sun, you have to be prepared to face the heat. Because of this, NASA built a sunshield to protect the spacecraft from the heat of the sun and also faced the four solar panels in the opposite direction of Mariner 4 since both space crafts had gone in opposite directions.
On June 14th, 1967, Mariner 5’s liftoff took place at Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 12 on Atlas vehicle 5401.
WHAT DID MARINER 5 DISCOVER ABOUT VENUS?
After about 4 months of travel, the 244.9Kg spacecraft arrived within 3,990Km of Venus and, with its radio occultation mechanism, it further revealed to us how utterly inhabitable Venus was for human existence and for life in general.
The planet has an atmospheric pressure of 75-100 Atmospheres. That is 75-100 times more than the atmospheric pressure on Earth. Any human who gets to live in Venus would be physically crushed by such pressure. The atmospheric temperature was as high as 527 degrees Celsius.
That’s over 5 times higher than that of boiling water. Venus is definitely not a place where anyone would want to live. These results were received and analyzed by Mariner 5 in conjunction with the Venera 4 Lander which had reached Venus from the Soviet Union about a day before the Mariner.
The Mariner 5 also discovered that the magnetic field of Venus was only 1% as strong as that of Earth because of which the planet had no trapped radiation belts around it. With an Ultraviolet photometer, the Mariner detected a hydrogen corona, though there were no oxygen emissions.
The Mariner 5 was the second successful flyby exploration of Venus. Since then, there have been about 7 other successful Flyby explorations.
WHAT’S LEFT OF MARINER 5?
By December 4, 1967, Mariner 5’s operations ended and it began to orbit the sun like all the other bodies in our solar system. It became inactive and NASA couldn’t communicate with it any longer.
Less than a year later, Mariner 4 and 5 were in the same idealized magnetic field spiral released by the sun and NASA tried to revive the system and make it run again. For the first couple of months, the attempts proved futile.
However, on October 14th, the receiver operator at DSS 14 locked onto the spacecraft’s signal. Unfortunately, though connection was restored, NASA was unable to give it commands and repair was impossible. All operations on the spacecraft were terminated on November 5, 1968.
54 years later, over 27 spacecraft have given us pictures of what it looks like to live on Venus. Though most future missions are orbitals, hopefully, we would have a man on Venus and even have colonies there in no distant time… say three hundred years.
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