From Flickr: “Mars 1” by NASA on The Commons

Description: Mars 1 was a Soviet automatic interplanetary station launched in the direction of Mars, with the intent of flying by the planet at a distance of about 11,000 km. It was designed to image the surface and send back data on cosmic radiation, micrometeoroid impacts and Mars’ magnetic field, radiation environment, atmospheric structure, and possible organic compounds.

After leaving Earth orbit, the spacecraft and the booster fourth stage separated and the solar panels were deployed. Early telemetry indicated that there was a leak in one of the gas valves in the orientation system so the spacecraft was transferred to gyroscopic stabilization. Sixty-one radio transmissions were held, initially at two day intervals and later at 5 days in which a large amount of interplanetary data were collected.

On March 21, 1963, when the spacecraft was at a distance of 106,760,000 km from Earth on its way to Mars communications ceased, probably due to failure of the spacecraft orientation system. Mars 1 closest approach to Mars occurred on 19 June 1963 at a distance of approximately 193,000 km, after which the spacecraft entered a heliocentric orbit.

Date: November 1, 1962

via Flickr