Pluto flyby marks 50th anniversary of first Mars encounter The Christian Science Monitor

How’s this for timing? NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is winging past Pluto this morning (July 14) exactly 50 years after the first robotic visit to Mars.

On July 14, 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 probe flew by the Red Planet, becoming the first spacecraft ever to capture up-close looks at another planet. (NASA’s Mariner 2 spacecraft gathered data but no images when it zoomed past Venus in December 1962.)

“You couldn’t have written a script that was better,” New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, told