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Gravitational and Relativistic Physics (GRP)

   PRESENT: Ongoing Research
    FUTURE: Gravity Probe B Seperator Dot AMS Seperator Dot STEP Seperator Dot LISA Seperator Dot SUMO
    PAST: Seperator Dot Gravity Probe ASeperator Dot Viking Seperator Dot Lunar Laser Ranging Seperator Dot LAGEOS I & II


Launch Date: 1975
Mission Duration: 3 - 7 years

 

The NASA Viking Mission to Mars was composed of two spacecraft, Viking 1 and Viking 2, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander. The primary mission objectives were to obtain high-resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life.

Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975 and arrived at Mars in June 19, 1976. The first month of orbit was devoted to imaging the surface to find appropriate landing sites for the Viking Landers. On July 20, 1976 the Viking 1 Lander separated from the Orbiter and touched down at Chryse Planitia.

Viking 2 was launched September 9, 1975 and entered Mars orbit on August 7, 1976. The Lander touched down at Utopia Planitia in 1976. The Orbiters imaged the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of 150 to 300 meters, and selected areas at 8 meters.

The Viking Landers transmitted images of the surface, took surface samples and analyzed them for composition and signs of life, studied atmospheric composition and meteorology and deployed seismometers. The results from the Viking experiments gave us our most complete view of Mars to date.

The surface material at both landing sites was best characterized as iron-rich clay. Measured temperatures at the landing sites ranged from 150 to 250 K, with a variation over a given day of 35 to 50 K. Seasonal dust storms, pressure changes, and transport of atmospheric gases between the polar caps were observed. The biology experiment produced no evidence of life at either landing site.



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