Mars’ First Close-up

November 29, 2014 5:30 AM

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of NASA’s Mariner IV spacecraft (November 28, 1964). In total, the mission gave us 21 complete images of Mars, including this, our first close view of the planet—courtesy of data transmitted by the interplanetary probe and earth-bound scientists wielding pastels (below).

“Experience had shown that the best way to send a weak radio signal through space in the presence of background noise is to use a signaling method known as pulse-code modulation. In this signal-coding method the output of an electrical device, whether it be a thermometer or a television camera, is c...

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