Bruce Murray Space Image Library
Mariner 2 gets the Rose Parade treatment
Mariner 2 flew by Venus on December 14, 1962 -- the first spacecraft to reach another planet and send data back to Earth. Launched on August 27, 1962, Mariner 2 was the first spacecraft to observe another planet, returning 42 minutes of data about the atmosphere and surface of the planet before going into heliocentric orbit. It was one of a series of Mariner missions designed to explore Earth's nearest neighbors, Venus and Mars.