Red Planet Day Date in the current year: November 28, 2024

Red Planet Day Red Planet Day is celebrated annually on November 28. It was created to commemorate the launch of Mariner-4, the first robotic interplanetary probe to perform a successful flyby of Mars.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun. The second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury, it is named after the Roman god of war, and its moons, Phobos and Deimos, are named after his sons. Mars is often referred to as the Red Planet due to the reddish coloring of its surface that results from the prevalence of iron oxide. It is one of the brightest objects in the sky of the Earth.

The exploration of Mars by spacecraft began in the 1960s, following the launch of NASA’s Mariner program. Its main goal was to explore the planets of the inner Solar System (Mars, Mercury and Venus) using robotic interplanetary probes developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Mariners 1 and 2 were developed and launched to explore Venus. Mariner 1 malfunctioned and was destroyed 5 minutes after liftoff, but Mariner 2 successfully reached its goal, becoming the first spacecraft to fly by another planet.

Mariners 3 and 4 were developed for Mars flyby missions. Mariner 3 was launched successfully but failed to reach the Red Planet due to malfunction. It was Mariner 4 that was able to fly past Mars and become the first spacecraft to collect close-up pictures of the surface of another planet.

Mariner 4 was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 28, 1964 and reached its destination seven and half months later. It flew past Mars on July 14 and 15, 1965 and took 22 pictures of the planet. The transmission of the photos back to Earth lasted until August 3; each of the pictures was transmitted twice to ensure no data was lost.

Mariner 4 was expected to remain in space for eight months, but its mission ended up lasting for about three years. Communications with the probe were terminated on December 21, 1967. Mariner 4 not only captured and transmitted the first ever close-up images of another planet, but also performed various measurements in interplanetary space in Mars’s vicinity and provided JPL’s engineers with invaluable experience for further projects and missions.

The origins of Red Planet Day are unclear, but it is widely celebrated by astronomy enthusiasts and everyone with a personal or professional interest in space exploration. You can observe the day by learning new interesting facts about Mars, reading a book, watching a documentary or listening to a podcast about the exploration of the Red Planet, and spreading the word on social media with the hashtag #RedPlanetDay to encourage others to celebrate too.

You also should check out planetariums and science centers near you — some of them might organize various Red Planet Day events such as lectures, talks, seminars, etc. If there are no events near you, you can hold an event of your own for your friends and family! Pop some corn, stock up on soda, and invite them over to watch Mission to Mars, The Last Days on Mars, The Martian, Total Recall, or another movie featuring the Red Planet.

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Unofficial Holidays


Red Planet Day, unofficial holidays, Mars exploration, Mariner program, Mariner 4 mission