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Mariner 10 was the seventh successful launch in the Mariner series and the first spacecraft to visit Mercury. It was also the first spacecraft to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another (Mercury), and the first spacecraft mission to visit two planets. The spacecraft flew by Mercury three times in a retrograde heliocentric orbit and returned images and data on the planet. Mariner 10 returned the first-ever close-up images of Venus and Mercury.
The spacecraft structure was an eight-sided forger magnesium framework with eight electronics compartments. It measured 1.39 m diagonally and 0.457 m in depth. Two solar panels, each 2.69 m long and 0.97 m wide, were attached at the top, supporting 5.1 sq m of solar cell area. Fully deployed the spacecraft measured 8.0 m across the solar panels and 3.7 m from the top of the low-gain antenna to the bottom of the heat-shield. A scan platform with two degrees of freedom was mounted on the anti-sunward face. A 5.8 m long hinged magnetometer boom extended from one of the octagonal sides of the body. Total launch mass was 502.9 kg, of this 29 kg were propellant and attitude control gas. The total mass of instruments onboard was 79.4 kg.