Three Mars Years: Viking Lander 1 Imaging Observations

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Science  04 Nov 1983:
Vol. 222, Issue 4623, pp. 463-468
DOI: 10.1126/science.222.4623.463


The Mutch Memorial Station (Viking Lander 1) on Mars acquired imaging and meteorological data over a period of 2245 martian days (3:3 martian years). This article discusses the deposition and erosion of thin deposits (ten to hundreds of micrometers) of bright red dust associated with global dust storms, and the removal of centimeter amounts of material in selected areas during a dust storm late in the third winter. Atmospheric pressure data acquired during the period of intense erosion imply that baroclinic disturbances and strong diurnal solar tidal heating combined to produce strong winds. Erosion occurred principally in areas where soil cohesion was reduced by earlier surface sampler activities. Except for redistribution of thin layers of materials, the surface appears to be remarkably stable, perhaps because of cohesion of the undisturbed surface material.