recommended reading

What big space data looked like in 1962

NASA

Throughout most of human history, humans knew Venus as "the brightest star in the sky." Fifty years ago, however -- December 14, 1962 -- humanity got to know our neighbor planet in a wonderfully new way: up close and personal. On that day, NASA's Mariner 2 spacecraft sailed by Venus, at a range of 21,600 miles, scanning its atmosphere and surface for a full 42 minutes. It was the first time any spacecraft had ever successfully made a close-up study of another planet.

The result, here on Earth, was data. Much, much data. Data that disproved, among other things, a popular theory: that Venus was, as a planet, very much like Earth. Mariner 2's readings showed instead that the surface temperature on Venus was a very un-balmy 797°F on both the day and night sides -- hot enough to melt lead. They also demonstrated that Venus rotates in the opposite direction from most other planets in our solar system; that it has an atmosphere composed mostly of carbon dioxide, with very high pressure at its surface; that it features a continuous cloud cover; and that it has no detectable magnetic field. Mariner 2 also discovered new information about interplanetary space -- learning that, among other things, the solar wind streams continuously, and that the density of cosmic dust between planets is much lower than it is near Earth.

So what did all that information look like, actually? There's the billboard of data, for one thing -- painted on, apparently and tellingly, wood -- in the image above. But there's also that unfurled scroll of paper -- a paper towel roll, essentially, full of information about our neighbor planet. Which brings us, finally, to this -- the larger image of the shot above:



Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.