Mariner 10

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• Launch date:  3 November  1973

• Orbital insertion: 5 February 1974 

• End of mission: 24 March 1975

• Agencia: NASA

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The first mission to employ gravity assist, or using the gravity of a planet to alter a spacecraft’s speed and trajectory to fly by its target planet, the Mariner 10 mission flew by both Venus and Mercury, snapping photos and collecting data.

Also the first spacecraft to visit Mercury, a feat that wouldn’t happen again for more than 30 years, Mariner 10 data revealed a surprising magnetic field and a metallic core comprising about 80 percent of Mercury’s mass.