Radar Characteristics of Viking 1 Landing Sites

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Science  27 Aug 1976:
Vol. 193, Issue 4255, pp. 812-815
DOI: 10.1126/science.193.4255.812


Radar observations of Mars at centimeter wavelengths in May, June, and July 1976 provided estimates of surface roughness and reflectivity in three potential landing areas for Viking 1. Surface roughness is characterized by the distribution of surface landing slopes or tilts on lateral scales of the order of 1 to 10 meters; measurements of surface reflectivity are indicators of bulk surface density in the uppermost few centimeters. By these measures, the Viking 1 landing site at 47.5° W, 22.4°N is rougher than the martian average, although it may be near the martian average for elevations accessible to Viking, and is estimated to be near the Mars average in reflectivity. The AINW site at the center of Chryse Planitia, 43.5°W, 23.4°N, may be an area of anomalous radar characteristics, indicative of extreme, small-scale roughness, very low surface density, or a combination of these two characteristics, Low signal-to-noise ratio observations of the original Chryse site at 34°W, 19.5°N indicate that that area is at least twice as rough as the Mars average.

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