Panorama of the landing site just after touchdown, Viking 2 Lander, September 1976

Panorama of the landing site just after touchdown, Viking 2 Lander, September 1976


Vintage gelatin silver print, 20.2 x 25.4 cm
NASA/JPL P-17682, caption on verso

[Caption] This rocky panoramic scene is the second picture of the Martian surface that was taken by Viking Lander 2 shortly after touchdown on September 3 at 3:58 pm PDT (earth received time). The site is on a northern plain of Mars, at about 48 degrees N. Lat., 226 degrees W. Long., known as Utopia Planitia. The picture sweeps around 360 degrees in azimuth, starting from northwest at the left through north (above the sampler arm housing) past east, where the sky is bright at the centre, and southeast toward the right above the radioisotope thermoelectric generator cover. The surface is strewn with rocks out to the horizon, ranging in size up to several meters across. Some pitted rocks resemble fragments of porous volcanic lava. Other rocks have grooves that may  have been eroded by windblown sand and dust. Although fine grained material is seen between the boulders, no sand dunes are evident. The dip in the eastern horizon at the center is an illusion caused by an 8 degree tilt of the Lander toward the west. Actually, the terrain is more level than that at the Viking 1 site. The horizon toward the left of the panorama (northwest) appears featureless, indicating that it may be several kilometers distant. The sky at the center (east) is bright because the sun was above but out of the picture at 10 am Mars time. Toward the right (southeast), the rocks that are silhouetted against the skyline indicate that the horizon is much nearer, probably because of a slight rise in that area of the terrain. The circular high-grain antenna at the right has clots of fine grained material adhering to the lower half, some of which appeared to have been sliding downward while the camera was scanning the area. At the extreme right, the banded appearance resulted because the camera continued to scan while it was no longer moving in azimuth. Any motion or other variation in the scene would show up as a change in successive lines.

Viking 2 landed on Mars in September 1976, immediately following the first successful spacecraft landing on Mars by Viking 1, and was part of NASA's early two-part mission to investigate the Red Planet and search for signs of life. While neither spacecraft found traces of life, they did find all the elements essential to life on Earth: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus. Like its predecessor, the Viking 2 mission consisted of a lander and an orbiter designed to take high-resolution images, and study the Martian surface and atmosphere. Both the Viking 1 and 2 landers benefited greatly from their orbiting counterparts, which snapped images that helped mission controllers navigate the landers to safe landing sites.

Condition: mint

About the Viking missions here


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