Viking Lander 2
Highlighted Portion of HiRISE Image PSP_001501_2280.
(Gerald Soffen Memorial Station)
Click the labels for higher resolution views.
Viking Lander 2 (VL2) landed on Mars on September 3, 1976, in Utopia Planitia. The lander, which has a diameter of about 3 meters, has been precisely located in the HiRISE image, and likely locations have been found for the heat shield and backshell. The lander location has been confirmed by overlaying the lander-derived topographic contours on the HiRISE image, which provides an excellent match. VL2 was one element of an ambitious mission to study Mars, with a 4-spacecraft flotilla consisting of two orbiters and two landers. Four cutouts from this image are shown. The first [above] is an overview showing the relative locations of the lander and candidate backshell and heat shield, and the others are enlargements of each of these components. Large boulders, dunes, and other features visible in Lander images can be located in the HiRISE image. The polygonal pattern of the surface is typical at these latitudes and may be due to the presence of deep subsurface ice. As chance would have it, this image is blurred in some places due to the abrupt motion associated with the restart of the High Gain Antenna tracking during the very short image exposure. This is the first time after acquiring hundreds of pictures that an image has been unintentionally smeared—overall performance has been excellent. A prime motivation for early viewing of these Viking sites is to calibrate what we see from space with the data previously acquired by the landers. In particular, determining what sizes of rocks can be seen from MRO aids the interpretation of data now being taken to characterize sites for future landers, such as the Mars Scout Phoenix mission to be launched in 2007.
Image PSP_001501_2280 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on November 21, 2006. The complete image is centered at 47.7 degrees latitude, 134.3 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 310.0 km (193.8 miles). At this distance the image scale is 31.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~93 cm across are resolved. The image shown here [below] has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:14 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 51 degrees, thus the sun was about 39 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 138.7 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.HiRISE Image PSP_001501_2280
Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and additional information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter are available online at:
For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit: http://www.nasa.gov. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.