Mariner 9 (Mariner Mars '71 / Mariner-I) was a NASA space orbiter that helped in the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 13 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet — only narrowly beating Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust-storms it managed to send back clear pictures of the surface.
40 years ago, on November 13, 1971, Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. During her one-year mission, Mariner 9 took over seven thousand images, covering 100% of the Martian surface, and unveiling never-before-seen features on the red planet, including Olympus Mons (the largest volcano in the Solar System), and Valles Marineris, which was named after the Spacecraft in its honor. [via rocketmantan.deviantart.com]
Forty years after launch, Mariner 9 remains in Mars orbit, her fuel having long run out. She will continue to orbit the red planet until sometime after 2022, when she is expected to burn up in atmosphere or smash into the Martian surface.