Saturday, April 25, 2015

Retro Saturday: Viking 1 Landing Commentary


Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: NASA Langley CRGIS.

This week's Retro Saturday is an excerpt from NASA coverage of the first transmissions on July 20, 1976 from the Viking 1 lander on the surface of Mars.

Many NASA and other web sites have information about the Viking program, such as the Goddard Space Flight Center web page, “Viking Program to Mars.” To quote from that site, “The primary mission objectives were to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life.”

Two Viking probes were launched — Viking 1 on August 20, 1975 and Viking 2 on September 9, 1975 — from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In the above video, the first data arrive from Mars at about the 18-minute mark. The first image is painted very slowly in strips, because the bandwidth back then was so low. We'd laugh today at how slow these black-and-white images were composed.


The first color image of the Mars surface transmitted by the Viking 1 lander. Image source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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