5 August 1973

Mars 6 is launched from the USSR.

The Mars 6 spacecraft carried an array of instruments to study Mars. The lander was equipped with a thermometer and barometer to determine the surface conditions, an accelerometer and radio altimeter for descent, and instruments to analyse the surface material including a mass spectrometer. The coast stage, or bus, carried a magnetometer, plasma traps, cosmic ray and micrometeoroid detectors, and an instrument to study proton and electron fluxes from the Sun.

Built by Lavochkin, Mars 6 was the first of two 3MP spacecraft launched to Mars in 1973 and was followed by Mars 7. Two orbiters, Mars 4 and Mars 5, were launched earlier in the 1973 Mars launch window and were expected to relay data for the two landers. However, Mars 4 failed to enter orbit, and Mars 5 failed after a few days in orbit.

Mars 6 was launched by a Proton-K carrier rocket with a Blok D upper stage, flying from Baikonur Cosmodrome Site 81/23. The launch occurred at 17:45:48 UTC on 5 August 1973, with the first three stages placing the spacecraft and upper stage into a low Earth parking orbit before the Blok D fired to propel Mars 6 into heliocentric orbit bound for Mars. The spacecraft performed a course correction on 13 August 1973.

Mars 6’s lander separated from the flyby bus on 12 March 1974 at an altitude of 48,000 kilometres 30,000 mi from the surface of Mars. The bus made a flyby with a closest approach of 1,600 kilometres 990 mi. The lander encountered the atmosphere of Mars at 09:05:53 UTC, slowing from 5,600 to 600 metres per second 12,500 to 1,300 mph as it passed through the upper atmosphere. A parachute was then deployed to further slow the probe’s descent, and retrorockets were intended to fire during the last seconds before the probe reached the ground.

The spacecraft returned data for 224 seconds during its descent through the Martian atmosphere. However, at 09:11:05 UTC, with the spacecraft about to fire its retrorockets in preparation for landing, all contact was lost. Due to a design flaw, a chip aboard the spacecraft had degraded during the mission, and a large amount of the data which had been returned was unusable.

28 December 1973

The Endangered Species Act is passed in the USA.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 is one of the few dozens of US environmental laws passed in the 1970s, and serves as the enacting legislation to carry out the provisions outlined in The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Designed to protect critically imperiled species from extinction as a “consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation”, the ESA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 28, 1973. The U.S. Supreme Court found that “the plain intent of Congress in enacting” the ESA “was to halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.” The Act is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

President Richard Nixon declared current species conservation efforts to be inadequate and called on the 93rd United States Congress to pass comprehensive endangered species legislation. Congress responded with a completely rewritten law, the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which was signed by Nixon on December 28, 1973. It was written by a team of lawyers and scientists, including Dr. Russell E. Train, the first appointed head of the Council on Environmental Quality, an outgrowth of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Dr. Train was assisted by a core group of staffers, including Dr. Earl Baysinger at EPA, Dick Gutting, and Dr. Gerard A. “Jerry” Bertrand, a marine biologist by training, who had transferred from his post as the Scientific Adviser to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, office of the Commandant of the Corps, to join the newly formed White House office. The staff, under Dr. Train’s leadership, incorporated dozens of new principles and ideas into the landmark legislation, crafting a document that completely changed the direction of environmental conservation in the United States. Dr. Bertrand is credited with writing the most challenged section of the Act, the “takings” clause – Section 2.

The stated purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species and also “the ecosystems upon which they depend.” California historian Kevin Starr was more emphatic when he said: “The Endangered Species Act of 1982 is the Magna Carta of the environmental movement.”

The ESA is administered by two federal agencies, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA handles marine species, and the FWS has responsibility over freshwater fish and all other species. Species that occur in both habitats  are jointly managed.

In March 2008, The Washington Post reported that documents showed that the Bush Administration, beginning in 2001, had erected “pervasive bureaucratic obstacles” that limited the number of species protected under the act:

1 December 1973

Papua New Guinea gains self governance from Australia.

4959716-3x2-940x627

After the war, some Australian officials wanted a return to the prewar order, while others wanted to empower the local population in gratitude for their assistance in the fighting. At first the Highlanders were utilized as a massive new source of labour for the coastal plantations. From the 1950s the growing of Arabica coffee by local smallholders spread rapidly throughout much of the Highlands, providing another source of income and keeping the people there in their villages. Meanwhile, cacao was rapidly adopted as a plantation and smallholder crop in the islands and around Madang. Despite the general lack of economic development in Papua, the town of Port Moresby grew rapidly and attracted large numbers of migrants, particularly from the poorer areas and especially the Highlands.

In 1945 Australia combined its administration of Papua and that of the former mandate into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which it administered from Canberra via Port Moresby. From 1946 Australia managed the New Guinea (eastern) half as a United Nations trust territory. In the 1950s Australia took a gradualist approach to educating the population and improving health services, but from 1960 international pressure led Australia to expedite efforts to create an educated elite and improve social conditions, boost the economy, and develop political structures in preparation for decolonization. General elections for a House of Assembly were held in 1964, 1968, and 1972; self-government was achieved on December 1, 1973, and full independence from Australia on September 16, 1975. At that time Australian development assistance provided nearly half of the national budget.

23 August 1973

In Stockholm, Sweden a bank robbery that went wrong results in a hostage crisis. The hostages begin to sympathize with their captors, leading to the what becomes known as the “Stockholm syndrome”.