NASA's Mariner 4 Space Probe

By Kellar Ellsworth
Technicians working on Mariner 4 before launch. (NASA JPL)

Space, despite existing thousands of miles away, holds a special place in human history. Whether it’s stargazing, Star Wars, or just the great unknown of the final frontier, humans have spent countless hours thinking about space. The United States and the former USSR, of course, engaged in an actual race to space that, at the time, appeared to decide the fate of the world. While Mariner 4 did not participate in the much-ballyhooed march to the moon, the competition between the Russians and Americans still ran hot.

The mission also opened humanity’s eyes to yet another awe-inspiring planet just a few million miles away and debunked many theories. Without Mariner 4 our understanding of Mars would have remained woefully incomplete.