Saturday Scenes

Thu 19 July 2012

Is there Life on Mars?

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 22:22

On the 14th of July in 1965, the Mariner 4 took the first close-up photographs of Mars, which were also the first photographs of another planet taken from space. The Mariner 4 was designed to fly by Mars to collect scientific data and to snap a series of photos. The trip to the planet Mars was a major success but also led to major disappointment. Before that time, it was believed that Mars may have an atmosphere and sentient life.

It sent back the first pictures taken of another planet from space: 21 high quality images of the barren surface of Mars.

Mariner IV

Now came the moment of truth – had we really obtained pictures? After the six hour delay for the 40,000 pixels (picture elements) to be transmitted the first picture was displayed. But what was that just above the limb? A cloud? Impossible. Everyone knew there weren’t clouds on Mars – it must be a crack in the camera lens. Oh, no, another instrument failure. Of course, as it later turned out there really are clouds on Mars. And then the real wonder came – picture after picture showing that the surface was dotted with craters! It appeared uncannily like that of our own Moon, deeply cratered, and unchanged over time. No water, no canals, no life. Right at the limit of vision, apparently those early observers had barely seen little dots, and arranged them into straight lines. Although at first great elation gripped the crew at realizing we had really done it, that was tempered by what had been revealed.

You can see the photographs that the Mariner IV took here: Mariner 4

And you can see the photographs taken of life and land forty-seven years later, on the 14th of July in 2012, right here!

And here are the visionaries who took them:

We want to see MORE photographs of places! Next Saturday, take a photograph and then tweet the location of your photograph to @SatScenes to be included. Special bonus points if you send in a photograph from Mars!

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