Reports

The Viking Landing Sites: Selection and Certification

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Science  27 Aug 1976:
Vol. 193, Issue 4255, pp. 809-812
DOI: 10.1126/science.193.4255.809

Abstract

During the past several years the Viking project developed plans to use Viking orbiter instruments and Earth-based radar to certify the suitability of the landing sites selected as the safest and most scientifically rewarding using Mariner 9 data. During June and July 1976, the Earth-based radar and orbital spacecraft observations of some of the prime and backup sites were completed. The results of these combined observations indicated that the Viking 1 prime landing area in the Chryse region of Mars is geologically varied and possibly more hazardous than expected, and was not certifiable as a site for the Viking 1 landing. Consequently, the site certification effort had to be drastically modified and lengthened to search for a site that might be safe enough to attempt to land. The selected site considered at 47.5°W, 22.4°N represented a compromise between desirable characteristics observed with visual images and those inferred from Earth-based radar. It lies in the Chryse region about 900 kilometers northwest of the original site. Viking 1 landed successfully at this site on 20 July 1976.