Published: 14th December 2021
What happened on December 14: The Mariner 2 made contact with Venus and this team reached the South Pole
December 14 is truly memorable for the adventure feats that took place on this day. Here's all you need to know about them
On this day, back in 1962, the Mariner 2 space probe became the first robotic space probe to conduct a successful planetary encounter. It did so when it flew by Venus after 110 days of flight. It came as close as 34,773 kilometers (21,607 miles) to the planet. Despite being over 202 kilograms heavy, only 18 kilograms of the spacecraft could be allocated to scientific instrumentation for experiments. The microwave radiometer mounted on the probe made three scans of Venus on the same day. The entire duration of the mission was 4 months and 7 days. The mission ended on January 3, 1963, when it made its last contact.
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The day of December 14 is also special for another exploration feat. In 1912, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led his team of 18 men across the frozen continent of Antarctica to reach the South Pole on December 14. Amundsen had spent 99 days racing Robert Scott, an English naval officer, to the South Pole and ultimately triumphed. It is believed that having a head start over Scott allowed Amundsen's expedition to be successful. On top of that, his use of dog sleds and fur for clothing proved vital as Scott, who had his men haul the gear and wore wool clothes, could not survive the return journey. Interestingly, Amundsen initially planned on being the first to reach the North Pole but instead decided to go south when he learnt of Frederick Cook and Robert Peary's claims of having reached the North Pole.