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The New Mars

Ken Elchert

November 29, 2013

The New Mars

The circumstances of my story aren't quite as prestigious as yours, Emily, since they all happened in a small town in Ohio 49 years ago -- from the winter of 1964 to the summer of 1965 when I was 15 years old. My friend and next-door neighbor were big space enthusiasts and we were anticipating the very first close-up images of Mars from Mariner 4. We made a countdown calendar that gave the number of days to the flyby starting at about T-230 days. When the flyby was actually made on July 14 & 15 the spacecraft took 21 images each of which took about 8 hours to send back to Earth if I remember right. We had anticipated views of canals but only saw craters. It was exciting to see what another world looked like close up for the first time but a little disappointing that there was no hint of the canals. In a single instant, the "old Mars" we had imagined were gone and a "new Mars" had taken its place. Little did we know at that time that our perception of the Moon would similarly change in an instant five years later when one of my other neighbors in Wapakoneta would take a "giant leap for mankind."


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