NASA / KSC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / KSC / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Launch of Mariner 9, from Cape Kennedy, Florida, USA, at 18:23 (EDT), 30 May 1971. The Mariner 9 spacecraft is inside the nosecone on top of this Atlas-Centaur rocket, which is lifting off from launchpad 36B. Once in space, the spacecraft disengaged from the rocket and fired its own engines to take it to Mars. It reached Mars on 13 November 1971, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. Previous Mars missions had only flown past the planet. Mariner 9 used television cameras to return pictures of the Martian surface to Earth. It was also used to study the composition and temperature of the atmosphere and the surface.
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