Mars Viking Program

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Mars Viking Program

The Viking program was an American space project in which two space probes were sent to the planet Mars. The probes were named Viking 1 and Viking 2 respectively. The two space crafts had two major components; the first one was an orbiter designed for photographing the surface of the planet Mars, and the second part, lander, was meant for studying Mars by landing on it. These space crafts had been designed using the best technology of the time in order to effectively acquire results. The orbiters had another purpose: to relay information to the landers as soon as they touched the surface of the planet. The Viking project was the most expensive, as well as the most ambitious, mission that was ever sent to Mars. It had cost about one billion US dollars. The mission was very successful, forming the biggest body of understanding concerning Mars in the time between 1990 and 2000.

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The program was an expansion of a previous, more ambitious NASA voyage Mars exploration program. The former project was not similar to the Viking program, however. Viking 1 was launched on the 20th of August, 1975, while Viking 2 was launched in the same year on the 9th of September. Both probes were on board Titan 111-E rockets. After a period of a month of orbiting th planet and continuous image returning, safe ground for landing was established. The orbiters were detached from the landers. The landers softly landed the identified landing ground on the planet’s surface on the 20th of July and the 3rd of September in 1976. The probes released scientific instruments on the Mars surface for operations.

The objectives of the mission included the following activities: obtaining quality images of the planet’s surface, searching for life evidence, and characterizing the composition and structure of the land and atmosphere. The primary objectives of the Viking orbiters were transporting the landers to Mars as well as locating and certifying landing sites. They were also to act as information relaying devices to the landers while performing scientific investigations.

The major propulsion unit of the Viking probes was mounted on the top side of orbiter bus. An engine of a rocket, filled with liquid fuel, provided Viking 1 and 2 with propulsion. The two orbiters received power from solar panels, which had 34800 cells of solar.

In the course of the mission, the probes discovered various geological forms that could have previously formed large water bodies. The immages transmitted brought about a revolution in what mankind thought about water on Mars. There are big valleys formed by water in many areas. Water floods broke via dams, deep valleys, and eroded groves. Within the southern hemisphere of mars, there used to be streams networks. The fact suggested that at some time in the course of the planet’s existence there used to be a rain outpour. The volcano flanks are thought to have been opened to rainfall since they had a close resemblance to those in Hawaii.

The lander conducted experiments that were biologically designed to detect the presence of life within the planet’s soil. As a result of failure of the previous tests, scientists thought that the positive results were due to non-biological chemical reactions that oxidized the soil.

In conclusion, the Viking program was successful. It brought plenty of knowledge in the area of astronomy and opened succeeding grounds for better space exploration. The experiments conducted and the photographs transmitted back to Earth proved life could be found on Mars since both probes found organic compounds in the soil of the planet.  The Mars Viking project was a costly one, but the mission was worth it since it broadened the understanding of the planet.

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