Mariner 2

1962 space probe to Venus

Mariner 2 was a NASA spacecraft. It was the second spacecraft in the Mariner program. Mariner 2 was the first successful mission from Earth to another planet.

Mariner 2
Depiction of Mariner 2 in space
Mission typePlanetary flyby
OperatorNASA / JPL
Harvard designation1962 Alpha Rho 1[1]
COSPAR ID1962-041A
SATCAT no.374
Mission duration4 months, 7 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeMariner
based on Ranger Block I
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Launch mass202.8 kilograms (447 lb)
Power220 watts (at Venus encounter)
Start of mission
Launch dateAugust 27, 1962, 06:53:14 (1962-08-27UTC06:53:14Z) UTC[1]
RocketAtlas LV-3 Agena-B
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-12
End of mission
Last contactJanuary 3, 1963 (1963-01-04) 7:00 UT[2]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric
Perihelion105,464,560 kilometers (56,946,310 nautical miles)
EpochDecember 27, 1962
Flyby of Venus
Closest approachDecember 14, 1962
Distance34,773 kilometers (18,776 nautical miles)



Mariner 2 was launched on August 27, 1962 aboard an Atlas-Agena B rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The aim of the Mariner 2 mission was to fly-by the planet Venus and return information on the planet's atmosphere, magnetic field, charged particle environment, and mass. Mariner 2 was at its closest to Venus, at a distance of 34,773 km, on December 14, 1962. Orbital perihelion was on December 27, 105,464,560 km away. The last radio signal from Mariner 2 was received on January 3, 1963. Mariner 2 is still orbiting around the Sun today.



The spacecraft's design was exactly the same as that of Mariner 1. Mariner 1 was the first spacecraft in the Mariner program, but it had to be destroyed shortly after launch because its trajectory was wrong.



The spacecraft found out that the surface temperature on Venus was at least 425 °C (797 °F), on both the day and night sides. It discovered that Venus rotates in the opposite direction from most planets in the Solar System. The spacecraft also found that the atmosphere of Venus is mostly of carbon dioxide and that there is a very high pressure at the planet's surface. Continuous cloud cover was detected but no magnetic field was, however. It also found that solar wind is continuous and that the density of cosmic dust between planets is much lower than it is near Earth.


  1. 1.0 1.1 McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
  2. "Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration". 20 September 2018.

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