The most that scientists knew about Mercury, Venus, or Jupiter was their size, surface temperature, and atmospheric composition. But on Dec. 14, 1962, the Mariner 2 spacecraft flew by Venus. For the first time, researchers had detailed and up-close information about another world, helping spawn new scientific fields such as astrogeology and modern planetary science. The planets in our solar system changed from distant points to fully fledged worlds, with distinctive and amazing features.
“As Carl Sagan used to say, only one generation of humankind can be the first explorers of the solar system, and we are that generation,” USGS astrogeologist Michael Carr wrote in a recent issue of the American Geophysical Union’s weekly magazine Eos, about the last 50 years of solar system exploration.
Excerpt from an article via WIRED. Continue HERE