Viking 2: Wikis

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Viking 2 Orbiter
Viking spacecraft.jpg
Viking orbiter
Organization NASA
Mission type Orbiter
Satellite of Mars
Orbital insertion date August 7, 1976
Launch date September 9, 1975
Launch vehicle Titan IIIE/Centaur
Mission duration September 9, 1975 to July 25, 1978
COSPAR ID 1975-083A
Home page Viking Project Information
Mass 883 kg
Power 620 W
Orbital elements
Eccentricity .816299166
Orbital period 24.08 h
Apoapsis 33176 km
Periapsis 302 km
Viking 2 Lander
Viking lander model.jpg
Viking Lander model
Organization NASA
Mission type Lander
Launch date September 9, 1975
Launch vehicle Titan IIIE/Centaur
Mission duration September 3, 1976 to April 11, 1980
COSPAR ID 1975-083C
Home page Viking Project Information
Mass 572 kg
Power 70 W

The Viking 2 mission was part of the Viking program to Mars, and consisted of an orbiter and a lander essentially identical to that of the Viking 1 mission. The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1,281 Mars days and was turned off on 11 April 1980 when its batteries failed. The orbiter worked until 25 July 1978, returning almost 16,000 images in 706 orbits around Mars.

Contents

Mission profile

The craft was launched on September 9, 1975. Following launch using a Titan/Centaur launch vehicle and a 333 day cruise to Mars, the Viking 2 Orbiter began returning global images of Mars prior to orbit insertion. The orbiter was inserted into a 1500 x 33,000 km, 24.6 h Mars orbit on August 7, 1976 and trimmed to a 27.3 h site certification orbit with a periapsis of 1499 km and an inclination of 55.2 degrees on 9 August. Imaging of candidate sites was begun and the landing site was selected based on these pictures and the images returned by the Viking 1 Orbiter.

The lander separated from the orbiter on September 3, 1976 at 22:37:50 UT and landed at Utopia Planitia. Normal operations called for the structure connecting the orbiter and lander (the bioshield) to be ejected after separation, but because of problems with the separation the bioshield was left attached to the orbiter. The orbit inclination was raised to 75 degrees on 30 September 1976.

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Orbiter

The orbiter primary mission ended at the beginning of solar conjunction on October 5, 1976. The extended mission commenced on 14 December 1976 after solar conjunction. On 20 December 1976 the periapsis was lowered to 778 km and the inclination raised to 80 degrees. Operations included close approaches to Deimos in October 1977 and the periapsis was lowered to 300 km and the period changed to 24 hours on 23 October 1977. The orbiter developed a leak in its propulsion system that vented its attitude control gas. It was placed in a 302 × 33176 km orbit and turned off on 25 July 1978 after returning almost 16,000 images in about 700–706 orbits around Mars.

Lander

The lander and its aeroshell separated from the orbiter on 3 September 19:39:59 UT. At the time of separation, the lander was orbiting at about 4 km/s. After separation, rockets fired to begin lander deorbit. After a few hours, at about 300 km attitude, the lander was reoriented for entry. The aeroshell with its ablative heat shield slowed the craft as it plunged through the atmosphere.

The Viking 2 Lander touched down about 200 km west of the crater Mie in Utopia Planitia at 48°16′08″N 225°59′24″W / 48.269°N 225.990°W / 48.269; -225.990Coordinates: 48°16′08″N 225°59′24″W / 48.269°N 225.990°W / 48.269; -225.990 at an altitude of 4.23 km relative to a reference ellipsoid with an equatorial radius of 3397.2 km and a flattening of 0.0105 (47°58′01″N 225°44′13″W / 47.967°N 225.737°W / 47.967; -225.737 (Viking 2 landing site planetographic) planetographic) at 22:58:20 UT (9:49:05 a.m. local Mars time).

Approximately 22 kg of propellants were left at landing. Due to radar misidentification of a rock or highly reflective surface, the thrusters fired an extra time 0.4 seconds before landing, cracking the surface and raising dust. The lander settled down with one leg on a rock, tilted at 8.2 degrees. The cameras began taking images immediately after landing.

The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1281 sols and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed.

Results from the Viking 2 mission

What would it look like walking around the landing site

The sky would be a light pink. The dirt would also appear pink. The surface would be uneven; the soil would be formed into troughs. Large rocks would be spread about. Most of the rocks are similar in size. Many of the rocks would have small holes or bubbles on their surfaces caused by escaping gas after they came to the surface. Some boulders would show erosion due to the wind. Many rocks would appear to be perched, as if wind removed much of the soil at their bases.[1].[2] There would be many small sand dunes that are still active. The wind speed would typically be 7 meters per second (16 miles per hour. There would be a hard crust on the top of the soil similar to a deposit, called caliche which is common in the U.S. Southwest. Such crusts are formed by solutions of minerals moving up through soil and evaporating at the surface.[3]

Analysis of soil

The soil resembled those produced from the weathering of basaltic lavas. The tested soil contained abundant silicon and iron, along with significant amounts of magnesium, aluminum, sulfur, calcium, and titanium. Trace elements, strontium and yttrium, were detected. The amount of potassium was 5 times lower than the average for the Earth's crust. Some chemicals in the soil contained sulfur and chlorine that were like those remaining after the evaporation of sea water. Sulfur was more concentrated in the crust on top of the soil then in the bulk soil beneath. The sulfur may be present as sulfates of sodium, magnesium, calcium, or iron. A sulfide of iron is also possible.[4] The Spirit Rover and the Opportunity Rover both found sulfates on Mars.[5] The Opportunity Rover (landed in 2004 with advanced instruments)found magnesium sulfate and calcium sulfate at Meridiani Planum.[6] Using results from the chemical measurements, mineral models suggest that the soil could be a mixture of about 90% iron-rich clay, about 10% magnesium sulfate (kieserite?), about 5% carbonate (calcite), and about 5% iron oxides (hematite, magnetite, goethite?). These minerals are typical weathering products of mafic igneous rocks.[7] All samples heated in the gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GSMS0] gave off water. However, the way the samples were handled prohibited an exact measurement of the amount of water. But, it was around 1%.[8] Studies with magnets aboard the landers indicated that the soil is between 3 and 7 percent magnetic materials by weight. The magnetic chemicals could be magnetite and maghemite. These could come from the weathering of basalt rock.[9][10] Experiments carried out by the Mars Spirit Rover (landed in 2004) indicated that magnetite could explain the magnetic nature of the dust and soil on Mars. Magnetite was found in the soil and that the most magnetic part of the soil was dark. Magnetite is very dark.[11]

Viking Lander 2 image of Utopia Planitia.

Search for life

Viking carried a biology experiment whose purpose was to look for life. The Viking biology experiment weighed 15.5 kg (34 lbs) and consisted of three subsystems: the Pyrolytic Release experiment (PR), the Labeled Release experiment (LR), and the Gas Exchange experiment (GEX). In addition, independent of the biology experiments, Viking carried a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) that could measure the composition and abundance of organic compounds in the martian soil.[12] The results were surprising and interesting: the GCMS gave a negative result; the PR gave a negative result, the GEX gave a negative result, and the LR gave a positive result.[13] Viking scientist Patricia Straat recently stated, "Our (LR) experiment was a definite positive response for life, but a lot of people have claimed that it was a false positive for a variety of reasons."[14] Most scientists now believe that the data were due to inorganic chemical reactions of the soil; however, this view may be changing after the recent discovery of near-surface ice near the Viking landing zone. Some scientists still believe the results were due to living reactions. No organic chemicals were found in the soil. However, dry areas of Antarctica do not have detectable organic compounds either, but they have organisms living in the rocks.[15] Mars has almost no ozone layer, unlike the Earth, so UV light sterilizes the surface and produces highly reactive chemicals such as peroxides that would oxidize any organic chemicals.[2] The Phoenix Lander discovered the chemical perchlorate in the Martian Soil. Perchlorate is a strong oxidant so it may have destroyed any organic matter on the surface.[16] If it is widespread on Mars, carbon-based life would be difficult at the soil surface.

Viking 2 image gallery

References

  1. ^ Mutch, T. et al. 1976. The Surface of Mars: The View from the Viking 2 Lander. Science: 194. 1277–1283.
  2. ^ a b Hartmann, W. 2003. A Traveler's Guide to Mars. Workman Publishing. NY NY.
  3. ^ Arvidson, R. A. Binder, and K. Jones. 1976. The Surface of Mars. Scientific American: 238. 76–89.
  4. ^ Clark, B. et al. 1976. Inorganic Analysis of Martian Samples at the Viking Landing Sites. Science: 194. 1283–1288.
  5. ^ http://marsrovers.nasa.gov/gallery/press/opportunity/20040625a.html
  6. ^ Christensen, P. et al. 2004. Mineralogy at Meridiani Planum from the Mini-TES Experiment on the Opportunity Rover. Science: 306. 1733–1739
  7. ^ Baird, A. et al. 1976. Mineralogic and Petrologic Implications of Viking Geochemical Results From Mars: Interim Report. Science: 194. 1288–1293.
  8. ^ Arvidson, R et al. 1989. The Martian surface as Imaged, Sampled, and Analyzed by the Viking Landers. Review of Geophysics:27. 39-60.
  9. ^ Hargraves, R. et al. 1976. Viking Magnetic Properties Investigation: Further Results. Science: 194. 1303–1309.
  10. ^ Arvidson, R, A. Binder, and K. Jones. The Surface of Mars. Scientific American
  11. ^ Bertelsen, P. et al. 2004. Magnetic Properties Experiements on the Mars Exploration rover Spirit at Gusev Crater. Science: 305. 827–829.
  12. ^ http://www.msss.com/http/ps/life/life.html
  13. ^ http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-life-00g.html
  14. ^ http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/09/28/viking-lander-mars.html
  15. ^ Friedmann, E. 1982. Endolithic Microorganisms in the Antarctic Cold Desert. Science: 215. 1045–1052.
  16. ^ http://www.planetary.org/news/2008/0806_Alien_Rumor_Quelled_as_NASA_Announces.html

External links

See also


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