Mariner 10 Research Paper

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Synopsis: Mariner 10 was the last of the Mariner spacecrafts to be launched [1]. The probe was the first spacecraft to visit two planet, Mercury and Venus, make use of gravity-assisted trajectory, and visit a planet more than once, Mercury [2]. The probe made use of advanced technology, such as the X-band high frequency transmitter, and made use of its own solar panels to create make-shift solar sails that allowed for conservation of gas needed for altitude control [5]. The probe answered many questions that scientists had about Venus’ magnetic field and atmosphere as well as about Mercury’s physical composition, magnetic field, and atmosphere [5]. The techniques developed during and for the Mariner 10 mission have been used in subsequent missions,…show more content…
An experimental X-band, high-frequency transmitter was included within the electronics package, which was the first of its kind to be sent into space [2]. Also included was an imaging system, infrared radiometer, UV airglow spectrometer, UV occultation spectrometer, two magnetometers, a charged-particle telescope, plasma analyzer, and low gain antenna [2]. All this equipment was powered by two solar panels. It was propelled into orbit on a hydrogen fueled Atlas-Centaur rocket [1]. Once in orbit, the probe used nitrogen gas jets to keep itself stabilized along with a suite of navigation tools, such as the Canopus star tracker, to keep the probe on the correct path to Venus and then Mercury [2]. In total, the probe weighed 502.9 kg at launch, measured 3.7 m across and 8 m from top to bottom…show more content…
It would be the first mission to reach Mercury, but it would require some ingenuity and the use of techniques that had never been done before to reach the planet. The only economical way for the probe to reach Mercury would be to use the gravity of Venus to change the trajectory of the probe so that fuel could be conserved [5]. This technique had never been tried before, and thus the probe had to be launched within a specific window so that Venus’ orbit around the Sun would align correctly with Mercury’s orbit [5]. The use of a gravity-assisted trajectory also brought many benefits outside of just economics. It would also allow for Mariner 10 to not just reaching the Mercury, but also make multiple flyby’s, limited only by the amount of fuel that was left for altitude control. Previously, they would only have been able to make a single pass due to the speed at which the probe would be travelling on a direct flight [5]. The use of a gravity-assisted trajectory would allow for a much more manageable speed without the need for a great loss in fuel [5]. This is what allowed the probe to make three passes around Mercury [5]. The technique would later go on to be used in subsequent NASA missions, such as Voyager and Cassini [5]. The use of the new technique, gave scientists an opportunity to explore not just Mercury, Venus as well. Scientists were particularly
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