Search for the Viking 2 Landing Site

Science  01 Oct 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4260, pp. 62-68
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4260.62


The search for the landing site of Viking 2 was more extensive than the search for the Viking 1 site. Seven times as much area (4.5 million square kilometers) was examined as for Viking 1. Cydonia (B1) and Capri (C1) sites were examined with the Viking 1 orbiter. The B latitude band (40° to 50°N) was selected before the final midcourse maneuver of Viking 2 because of its high scientific interest (that is, high atmospheric water content, surface temperature, possible near-surface permafrost, and a different geological domain). The Viking 1 orbiter continued photographing the Cydonia (B1) site to search for an area large and smooth enough on which to land (three-sigma ellipse; 100 by 260 kilometers); such an area was not found. The second spacecraft photographed and made infrared measurements in large areas in Arcadia (B2) and Utopia Planitia (B3). Both areas are highly textured, mottled cratered plains with abundant impact craters like Cydonia (B1), but smaller sectors in each area are partially mantled by wind-formed deposits. The thermal inertia, from which the grain size of surface material can be computed, and atmospheric water content were determined from the infrared observations. A region in Utopia Planitia, west of the crater Mie, was selected: the landing took place successfully on 3 September 1976 at 3:58:20 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, earth received time.

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