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General Discussion => Historical Spaceflight => Topic started by: Dobbins on 12/25/2005 04:05 pm

Title: Mariner IV
Post by: Dobbins on 12/25/2005 04:05 pm
Here's a little Christmas present for NASA Space Flight Readers, personal recollections of the Mariner IV mission, the first flyby of Mars, from Bill Momsen the imaging engineer for JPL's Mariner series of missions.

"This is the story of Mariner IV, the world's first mission to the planet Mars. Among many important discoveries, it consigned the canal theory to limbo. A description of the mission and spacecraft is augmented by the author's personal experiences while associated with this historic undertaking"

http://home.earthlink.net/~nbrass1/mariner/miv.htm

Title: RE: Mariner IV
Post by: Davros on 12/25/2005 05:51 pm
That is a very nice read. Very personal and one to enjoy.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: leovinus on 09/11/2022 07:24 pm
As Mariner 4 came up in another thread, I found the post #1 link to be dead. It is on archive.org as
https://web.archive.org/web/20060102025337/http://home.earthlink.net/~nbrass1/mariner/miv.htm
and attached as PDFs as well.

Someone else can try to revive the movies at the thread

Mariner IV: "Eight Months to Mars" 1965 NASA-USIA - Video
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=42207.0
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: leovinus on 09/11/2022 07:35 pm
Report From Mars - Mariner IV, 1964-1965
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19660013521

To Mars- The Odyssey Of Mariner IV
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19650018349

Design And Test Performance Of Mariner IV Television Optical System
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19650019536
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Phil Stooke on 09/11/2022 08:49 pm
Here are the images, mapped onto a modern map by matching features.  Contemporary maps could not locate the images precisely and were based on pointing.  They typically show image 1 extending much further north than it really did.  Also note in images 1 and 2 that the white markings are clearly surface features, not clouds as often suggested at the time.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: libra on 09/12/2022 03:47 am
Cross-posting from this thread
https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=56027.msg2406876#msg2406876

To extend the discussion: I was surprised that all five Lunar Orbiter took a combined 1100 pictures; also it took two weeks to film readout and beam the pictures to Earth. From lunar distances.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: laszlo on 09/12/2022 12:53 pm
That 2 weeks was mostly caused by the fact that the spacecraft was only visible from Earth for about 4 hours per orbit and there were only about 3 orbits per day. It also wasn't helped by the fact that the data storage medium was a reel of photographic film instead of an electronic medium.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: libra on 09/13/2022 04:19 am
Ok, thank you for that. Even for 1960's analog tech I found it excessively sloooooooooow...

Somewhere on this forum (in one of the many spysats thread) I put Lunar ORbiter data rates back to back with SAMOS in LEO - and why it was found to be unworkable as spysat; despite the powerful lure (or attractivity) of near real time imaging.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: LittleBird on 09/13/2022 09:28 am
Ok, thank you for that. Even for 1960's analog tech I found it excessively sloooooooooow...


Oliver Morton put the speed [edit: of Mariner IV at Mars] rather nicely in context in Mapping Mars in 2002 when he remarked that each picture's data was about the size of an *empty* Word document, and that even then he could download the whole dataset in seconds with what may well still have been a dialup modem.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: laszlo on 09/13/2022 11:56 am
Ok, thank you for that. Even for 1960's analog tech I found it excessively sloooooooooow...


Oliver Morton put the speed rather nicely in context in Mapping Mars in 2002 when he remarked that each picture's data was about the size of an *empty* Word document, and that even then he could download the whole dataset in seconds with what may well still have been a dialup modem.

Again, you need to keep in mind the storage medium.  The film had to be mechanically moved from reel to reel under a flying spot scanner. The film was scanned almost 300 times per mm, so it was a relatively slow mechanical process, much slower than retrieving data from a hard drive.The scanning and transmission were of necessity linear, too. That is, the transmitter couldn't queue up data to send while the next strip of film was being moved into position. So the transmission time was set by the film movement, not by the transmitter data rate. Morton's example, while instructive concerning the amount of data collected, isn't all that applicable to the spacecraft data rates.

Edit - The scan time for a medium-res frame was 10 minutes and a high-res frame took 34 minutes
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: ccdengr on 09/13/2022 03:28 pm
Mariner 4 did not use a film system.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/experiment/display.action?id=1964-077A-01
Quote
The Mars television experiment was designed to obtain photographs of the Martian surface and telemeter them to earth. The TV subsystem consisted of (1) a Cassegrain narrow-angle reflecting telescope... (2) a shutter and filter assembly that had 0.08- and 0.20-s exposure times and used red and green filters, (3) a slow scan vidicon tube, with a 0.22- by 0.22-in. sq target, which translated the optical image into an electrical video signal...
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: LittleBird on 09/13/2022 03:41 pm
Mariner 4 did not use a film system.
https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/experiment/display.action?id=1964-077A-01
Quote
The Mars television experiment was designed to obtain photographs of the Martian surface and telemeter them to earth. The TV subsystem consisted of (1) a Cassegrain narrow-angle reflecting telescope... (2) a shutter and filter assembly that had 0.08- and 0.20-s exposure times and used red and green filters, (3) a slow scan vidicon tube, with a 0.22- by 0.22-in. sq target, which translated the optical image into an electrical video signal...

Indeed, we know, thanks, and it was recently discussed in Empire thread  https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=56027.msg2406790#msg2406790 -it's just that libra and laszlo are comparing the speed of playback by and comms links to the moon in case of Lunar Orbiter with that of Mariner IV at Mars ... and I realise my own post wasn't clear that Oliver M was referring to Mariner IV not Lunar Orbiter, sorry.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 09/21/2022 04:31 pm
After Mariner 3's launch failed and the probe was left entombed in its payload shroud NASA rushed to assemble the backup vehicle, Atlas 288D, and probe on LC-12. Since the failure had been caused by the fiberglass payload shroud on Mariner 3, it was replaced by a metal one but this was heavier and would reduce Atlas performance, so GD/A had to make some modifications to the launch vehicle, though I'm not exactly sure what those were (removing extra telemetry measurements? I don't happen to know offhand).

While Mariner 3 was launched from LC-13, which NASA had to share with the Air Force and its Vela program, 4 used LC-12 which was completely under NASA control. Although to be honest LC-13 didn't see another launch for eight months so the pad wasn't exactly that booked up. They had to work fast because the Mars window would close and they'd be stuck waiting two years for the next one but ended up completing the work and launching only 23 days after Mariner 3.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Proponent on 09/21/2022 07:24 pm
After Mariner 3's launch failed and the probe was left entombed in its payload shroud NASA rushed to assemble the backup vehicle, Atlas 288D, and probe on LC-12.

Wasn't it always planned to launch two Mariners to Mars during the window?  Dual launches seem to have been the norm rather than the exception for the Mariner program (as well as for the Voyager program, which was originally referred to as "Mariner Jupiter Saturn").  Strictly speaking, then, Mariner 4 was not a back-up.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Jim on 09/21/2022 08:03 pm
After Mariner 3's launch failed and the probe was left entombed in its payload shroud NASA rushed to assemble the backup vehicle, Atlas 288D, and probe on LC-12.

Wasn't it always planned to launch two Mariners to Mars during the window?  Dual launches seem to have been the norm rather than the exception for the Mariner program (as well as for the Voyager program, which was originally referred to as "Mariner Jupiter Saturn").  Strictly speaking, then, Mariner 4 was not a back-up.

There actually was a third spacecraft.  It became Mariner 5 and went to Venus.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 09/21/2022 11:58 pm
Mariner 3 was not the first or last time ill-conceived weight-saving hardware caused the loss of a mission as there was Titan 3C-12 which failed during launch when its fiberglass shroud fell off and certain Atlas flight test failures caused by lightweight aluminum components that proved less durable than steel ones. Because, surprise, lightweight materials also tend to be flimsier.

And also Atlas-Centaur AC-4 which failed because it had undersized ullage rocket tanks to reduce weight but turned out there wasn't enough propellant to stabilize the main Centaur tanks for engine restart.

And yes, Mariner 5 was a leftover from the Mars '64 program and several modifications were made including smaller solar panels as it would get more sunlight going to Venus and several instruments and the camera removed. They were also able to add a UV photometer that was supposed to go on Mariner 4 but dropped when bench testing confirmed that it could short out the camera. Mariner 5's launch was mostly successful but the Agena exhibited pressure fluctuations in the engine thrust chamber so Bell redesigned the turbopump gearbox to prevent future recurrences.

Guess the plan was to launch two probes like with the later NASA "dual" planetary missions and there was a third built as a backup in case they lost one. But then again after 3 was lost they just went and flew 4 by itself without the planned dual launch--I assume there wasn't a third Atlas-Agena vehicle available for the backup probe.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Jim on 09/22/2022 01:23 am
--I assume there wasn't a third Atlas-Agena vehicle available for the backup probe.

Was never planned.  The 3 spacecraft were in case there were problems in prelaunch processing.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: LittleBird on 09/22/2022 05:57 am
After Mariner 3's launch failed and the probe was left entombed in its payload shroud NASA rushed to assemble the backup vehicle, Atlas 288D, and probe on LC-12. Since the failure had been caused by the fiberglass payload shroud on Mariner 3, it was replaced by a metal one but this was heavier and would reduce Atlas performance, so GD/A had to make some modifications to the launch vehicle, though I'm not exactly sure what those were (removing extra telemetry measurements? I don't happen to know offhand).

While Mariner 3 was launched from LC-13, which NASA had to share with the Air Force and its Vela program, 4 used LC-12 which was completely under NASA control. Although to be honest LC-13 didn't see another launch for eight months so the pad wasn't exactly that booked up. They had to work fast because the Mars window would close and they'd be stuck waiting two years for the next one but ended up completing the work and launching only 23 days after Mariner 3.

Story also nicely told at Drew Ex Machina: https://www.drewexmachina.com/2014/11/05/50-years-ago-today-the-launch-of-mariner-3/
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: libra on 09/22/2022 06:50 am
That blog is such a good resource... !
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 09/22/2022 06:11 pm
Story also nicely told at Drew Ex Machina: https://www.drewexmachina.com/2014/11/05/50-years-ago-today-the-launch-of-mariner-3/

Quote
Given that it typically took about 21 days to refurbish an Atlas launch pad and erect a second rocket
Bit of a disadvantage there compared with the Soviet program which could reuse R-7 pads in just two days.

Quote
two launch pads would have to be used to improve the chances of getting both Mars-bound spacecraft off the ground in the time available.
LV reliability was improving by 1964 but still potentially an issue and the standardized Atlas SLV core had not been adopted across the board yet; Mariner 3 and 4 were still using custom-built Atlas D vehicles tailored for the particular mission needs.

Quote
Launch Complex 12 and 13 at Cape Kennedy were chosen to support the Mariner-Mars 1964 launches. LC-12 was a NASA launch pad but it needed to be modified to support the Atlas-Agena D then reconfigured after the Mariner launch to continue supporting the Agena B for missions such as the upcoming Ranger 8 lunar probe. LC-13 was a USAF facility that was already configured to support the Agena D but would require some modifications to support the Mariner payload just as LC-12 would.

LC-13 was used for Vela in 1963-65 with the sole exception of Mariner 3 while LC-12 was used for NASA missions--Ranger, OGO, and Mariner as well as the FIRE Apollo heat shield tests but each of these required the pad to be reconfigured (also note that 15 months passed between Ranger 5 and 6 so LC-12 didn't get used at all during 1963). Plus of course Ranger used Agena B while Mariner used Agena D which necessitated further modifications.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Jim on 09/22/2022 08:45 pm

1.  Bit of a disadvantage there compared with the Soviet program which could reuse R-7 pads in just two days.

LV reliability was improving by 1964 but still potentially an issue and the standardized Atlas SLV core had not been adopted across the board yet; Mariner 3 and 4 were still using custom-built Atlas D vehicles tailored for the particular mission needs.

LC-13 was used for Vela in 1963-65 with the sole exception of Mariner 3 while LC-12 was used for NASA missions--Ranger, OGO, and Mariner as well as the FIRE Apollo heat shield tests but each of these required the pad to be reconfigured (also note that 15 months passed between Ranger 5 and 6 so LC-12 didn't get used at all during 1963). Plus of course Ranger used Agena B while Mariner used Agena D which necessitated further modifications.

1.  Not at all a disadvantage since there were three Atlas Agena pads.  R-7 didn't have as many pads

2.  Not really, spacecraft reliability was more of a concern

3.  Pads did not have to be modified between Agena B and Agena D missions
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 09/23/2022 01:35 am
The drewexmachina link seemed to suggest there were differences between Agena B and D launches but they could be wrong. As for spacecraft reliability, it was the biggest concern but LV gremlins did still pop up from time to time, even though CCAS had a better record with Atlas-Agena than Vandenberg. After all, two GATVs were lost to booster malfunctions and this was after the standardized Atlas SLV was flying.

Also there were not three Atlas-Agena pads at the Cape in 1963-64, there were two (LC-12 and 13). LC-14 was in the process of being converted from Mercury launches to GATV during this time and then it was used exclusively for those until being retired from use at the end of the Gemini program.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Jim on 09/23/2022 01:57 pm

Also there were not three Atlas-Agena pads at the Cape in 1963-64, there were two (LC-12 and 13). LC-14 was in the process of being converted from Mercury launches to GATV during this time and then it was used exclusively for those until being retired from use at the end of the Gemini program.

LC-14 had supported Agena before Mercury.  Most of the infrastructure was still there, the reconversion didn't take much.  It was used exclusively for GATV, but didn't have to.
Still doesn't change the fact that Atlas Agena didn't have to rely on one pad and do a quick turn around and hence didn't have a "disadvantage"
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 10/03/2022 04:24 pm
(report is as of January '62)

I agree they seemed to have a worse record with West Coast Atlas-Agena and that was attributed in here to how VAFB lacked some of CCAS's checkout and diagnostic capabilities that had been set up for the Atlas R&D flights (as for example verifying autopilot functionality prior to launch).

As for the point about LC-14 yeah it had hosted those two MIDAS launches way back in 1960 using the prototype Agena A, and even before that the first Atlas-Able launch which a hypergol upper stage. I suppose the infrastructure for Agena such as the propellant tanks was still there though they'd have had to keep it maintained for over four years of non-use--the equipment would rust quickly in the salty coastal air if not kept cleaned and painted (LC-14's umbilical tower rusted fast after the pad's active use ended in 1967 and had to eventually be demolished for safety reasons).

This report also makes the interesting complaint that CCAS had "inadequate" storage facilities for the Agena's propellants.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: edkyle99 on 10/04/2022 07:05 pm
I agree they seemed to have a worse record with West Coast Atlas-Agena and that was attributed in here to how VAFB lacked some of CCAS's checkout and diagnostic capabilities that had been set up for the Atlas R&D flights (as for example verifying autopilot functionality prior to launch).
By my count, the Cape at no time after the first few months had a better Atlas-Agena launch record than Vandenberg/Point Arguello. 

 Atlas-Agena Flights(Failures)
     with Raw Success Rate

       Running Totals

        Cape         VAFB
------------------------------
1960  2(1)  0.50    1(1)  0.00       
1961  4(3)  0.25    7(5)  0.29
1962  9(5)  0.44   15(6)  0.60
1963 10(5)  0.50   22(7)  0.68
1964 16(6)  0.63   32(8)  0.75
1965 20(7)  0.65   42(9)  0.79
1966 30(8)  0.73   57(10) 0.82
1967 36(9)  0.75   60(10) 0.83
...
1978 48(10) 0.79   61(10) 0.84
------------------------------

Total      109(20) 0.82   

 - Ed Kyle
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 10/04/2022 09:09 pm
By my count, the Cape at no time after the first few months had a better Atlas-Agena launch record than Vandenberg/Point Arguello. 
Broken down more summarily:

10 Atlas failures (4 CCAS, 6 VAFB)
7 Agena failures (4 CCAS, 3 VAFB)
2 failures caused by ground support equipment (2 VAFB)
1 failure caused by the payload shroud (1 CCAS)

To be entirely fair the document I posted was from early 1962 at which point VAFB had more failures (4 including an on-pad explosion) against 3 CCAS failures. Taken in the context of that time CCAS would have been seen as better especially because those 3 failures were due entirely to Agena problems--right after that Ranger 3 failed due to an Atlas guidance system malfunction. Taken as a whole and to the end of the program in 1978 it evens to 10 failures from each launch site.

It should be noted that VAFB had many more failures that occurred in the first two minutes of launch, including a few low altitude explosions. These malfunctions would be fairly preventable with proper prelaunch checks whereas failures like a rocket stage not restarting in orbit are harder to prevent from happening and the evidence does indicate that VAFB did not have as good facilities for prelaunch testing and checkouts of LVs.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Jim on 10/05/2022 03:45 am
By my count, the Cape at no time after the first few months had a better Atlas-Agena launch record than Vandenberg/Point Arguello. 
Broken down more summarily:

10 Atlas failures (4 CCAS, 6 VAFB)
7 Agena failures (4 CCAS, 3 VAFB)
2 failures caused by ground support equipment (2 VAFB)
1 failure caused by the payload shroud (1 CCAS)

To be entirely fair the document I posted was from early 1962 at which point VAFB had more failures (4 including an on-pad explosion) against 3 CCAS failures. Taken in the context of that time CCAS would have been seen as better especially because those 3 failures were due entirely to Agena problems--right after that Ranger 3 failed due to an Atlas guidance system malfunction. Taken as a whole and to the end of the program in 1978 it evens to 10 failures from each launch site.

It should be noted that VAFB had many more failures that occurred in the first two minutes of launch, including a few low altitude explosions. These malfunctions would be fairly preventable with proper prelaunch checks whereas failures like a rocket stage not restarting in orbit are harder to prevent from happening and the evidence does indicate that VAFB did not have as good facilities for prelaunch testing and checkouts of LVs.

It was only CCAS for a short time in the 90's.  It was either CCAFS or CKAFS in this time frame.

It was a known and even studied byt Booz Allen.   The Cape had R&D facilities and Vandenberg used operational facilities. 
Here is a Vandenberg launch console
https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/upper-stage-launch-vehicle-agena-b/nasm_A19650291000
It is like the Atlas ICBM consoles

Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: WallE on 10/05/2022 08:26 pm
Yeah VAFB had an automated countdown sequence designed for operational missile launches--the sequencer logic was modified as a result of Samos 3 to prevent premature umbilical ejection. That particular failure mode probably wouldn't have happened with the Cape's manual countdown sequences.

VAFB launches seemed to have considerable difficulty with the Atlas autopilot since they didn't have the capability of testing them prior to launch. The guidance system on Atlas-Agena was a lemon and it failed routinely on both coasts until being redesigned during 1963. A couple VAFB (both missile and SLV) flights were lost due to the rise-off disconnect falling off and allowing the hydraulics system fluid to escape. At the Cape the mostly they had upper stage issues and the guidance system, which had recently been changed from a vacuum tube to a transistor setup that did not work very well and had to be redesigned. However, it should also be stressed that the guidance system was another component not used during the first two minutes of launch so harder to test on the ground.

And that's not even getting into the endless parade of disastrous Thor-Agena launches from VAFB while CCAFS had a better overall success rate with Thor-based SLVs.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: catdlr on 11/20/2022 09:15 am
Computers Were So Slow Scientists 'Painted' The First Close Up Image Of Mars

https://youtu.be/nSQlM6yGh7k

Quote
Nov 19, 2022
Mariner 4 would https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/Themes/nsf2019/images/bbc/quote.gifbe the first successful deep space spacecraft to fly by another planet and take a close-up image of the surface. The data rates were so low that it would take 8 hours to downlink the 200x200 images to Earth before the computers could start processing the image and printing them out. 
Engineers who had been working on the camera system famously short-circuited the process and began assembling their own image using strips of telemetry printout and coloring them with pastels bought from a local art store.
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Vahe231991 on 11/21/2022 01:55 am
It's common knowledge that images taken by the Mariner 4 mission showed the supposed "canals" spotted on Mars by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877 to be non-existent. Were the planners of the Mariner 4 mission aware of suggestions made by some scientists in the early 20th century (e.g. Barnard, Antonialdi, Maunder, Wallace) that the features on Mars that Schiaparelli considered to be canals were not features built by Martian extraterrestrials?
Title: Re: Mariner IV
Post by: Phil Stooke on 11/21/2022 02:11 am
Yes, of course.  Nobody had believed that for a long time. But there were still suspicions that the canals might be real features of some kind such as cracks in the crust caused by impact cratering.  This is from a period when some people thought that lunar crater rays might be cracks in the lunar crust caused by impact craters, possibly brightened by gases escaping through the cracks.  Clyde Tombaugh of Pluto fame drew a map of the region to be imaged by Mariner 4 with a network of canals, and he interpreted small dark spots at canal intersections as impact craters.  The Mariner 4 imaging scientists were looking for possible features like that, not artificial canals.  The attached image is a redrawing of Tombaugh's map.

Tombaugh, C. W., 1965. Provisional Map of Mars, Mariner 4 Region. NASA report CR-64772, TN-701-
66-8. Las Cruces, New Mexico: New Mexico State University, July 1965.