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Published: Dec 13 , 2012
Author: Robin Copland

They eat a lot of peanuts in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a landing on Mars approaches. It is an old tradition that dates back to 31 July 1964 when Ranger 7, an unmanned space probe was due to approach the planet, take a few pictures on the way down, then crash onto the surface at breakneck speed. Bear in mind that only a year or two previously, President Kennedy had targeted the USA with landing men on the moon, then returning them safely to Earth by the end of that decade. You would have thought, would you not, that crashing onto Mars would have been well within the wit and capability of the good folks at NASA; sadly not. Rangers 1 through 6 had failed miserably in their various attempts to crash on the planet and Ranger 7 was their last shot at glory...

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