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Television Photography

NSSDC ID: 1973-085A-01
Mission Name: Mariner 10
Principal Investigator: Dr. Bruce C. Murray


The objectives of this experiment were to photograph the surfaces (upper atmosphere in the case of Venus) of the planets Venus and Mercury. For Venus, specific objectives were to investigate the time-dependent properties of the UV clouds, and to obtain high-resolution imagery of the main clouds. For Mercury, specific objectives were to map its major physiographic provinces, determine its spin axis orientation, establish a cartographic coordinate system, and search for Mercurian satellites. The equipment consisted of two spherical (150 mm diameter) Cassegrain telescopes with eight filters, each attached to a GEC 1 inch vidicon tube camera (1500 mm focal length and 0.5 degree field of view) for narrow-angle photography. An auxiliary optical system mounted on each camera provided wide-angle (62 mm focal length, 11 x 14 degree field of view) photography by moving a mirror on a filter wheel to a position in the optical path. Exposure time ranged from 3 ms to 12 s, and each camera took a picture every 42 s. The TV picture consisted of 700 scan lines with 832 picture elements per line, which were digitally coded into eight-bit words for transmission. There were eight filter wheel positions: (1) wide-angle image relay mirror; (2) blue bandpass; (3) UV polarizing; (4) minus UV high pass; (5) clear; (6) UV bandpass; (7) defocusing lens (for calibration); and, (8) yellow bandpass. About 7000 photographs were obtained of Venus and Mercury, with a maximum resolution of 100 m for Mercury. Three photographic passes, separated by 6 month intervals, were made for Mercury.

Alternate Names

  • Television

Facts in Brief

Mass: 43.9 kg
Power (avg): 30.9 W
Bit rate (avg): 22.0 bps

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science (United States)


  • Planetary Science: Atmospheres
  • Planetary Science: Geology and Geophysics

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this experiment can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams.



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Robert G. StromTeam MemberUniversity of
Dr. Bruce W. HapkeTeam MemberUniversity of
Dr. Gerard P. KuiperTeam MemberUniversity of Arizona 
Dr. Newell J. Trask, Jr.Team MemberUS Geological Survey 
Mr. Merton E. DaviesTeam MemberRand Corporation 
Prof. Brian T. O'LearyTeam MemberPrinceton
Dr. Bruce C. MurrayGeneral ContactCalifornia Institute of Technology 
Dr. Michael J.S. BeltonTeam MemberKitt Peak National
Dr. Verner E. SuomiTeam MemberUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison 
Dr. Donald E. GaultTeam MemberNASA Ames Research Center 
Mr. G. Edward Danielson, Jr.Team MemberNASA Jet Propulsion

Selected References

Murray, B. C., et al., Imaging of Mercury and Venus from a flyby, Icarus, 15, 153-173, Oct. 1971.

Murray, B. C., et al., Mercury's surface: Preliminary description and interpretations from Mariner 10 pictures, Science, 185, No. 4146, 169-179, July 1974.

Gault, D. E., et al., Some comparisons of impact craters on Mercury and the moon, J. Geophys. Res., 80, No. 17, 2444-2460, June 1975.

Trask, N. J., and J. E. Guest, Preliminary geologic terrain map of Mercury, J. Geophys. Res., 80, No. 17, 2461-2477, June 1975.

Murray, B. C., et al., Surface history of Mercury: Implications for terrestrial planets, J. Geophys. Res., 80, No. 17, 2508-2514, June 1975.

Danielson, G. E., Jr., et al., Acquisition and description of Mariner 10 television science data at Mercury, J. Geophys. Res., 80, No. 17, 2357-2393, June 1975.

Murray, B. C., et al., Venus: Atmospheric motion and structure from Mariner 10 pictures, Science, 183, No. 4131, 1307-1315, Mar. 1974.

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