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Viking Lander 1 Thomas Mutch Memorial Station
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Viking Lander 1 (Thomas Mutch Memorial Station)

February 6, 2007
Viking Lander 1 (VL1) touched down in western Chryse Planitia on July 20, 1976. The lander, which has a diameter of about 3 meters, has been precisely located in the HiRISE orbital image, and likely locations have been found for the heat shield, backshell, and parachute attached to the backshell. The lander location has been confirmed by overlaying the lander-derived topographic contours on the HiRISE image, which provides an excellent match. VL1 was one element of an ambitious mission to study Mars, with a 4-spacecraft flotilla consisting of two orbiters and two landers. Four cutouts from this image are shown. The first [above] is an overview showing the relative locations of the lander and candidate backshell and heat shield, and the others are enlargements of each of these components. Large boulders, dunes, and other features visible in Lander images can be located in the HiRISE image.

A prime motivation for early viewing of these Viking sites is to calibrate what we see from space with the data previously acquired by the landers. In particular, determining what sizes of rocks can be seen from MRO aids the interpretation of data now being taken to characterize sites for future landers, such as the Mars Scout Phoenix mission to be launched in 2007.

Image PSP_001521_2025 was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft on November 22, 2006. The complete image is centered at 22.3 degrees latitude, 312.1 degrees East longitude. The range to the target site was 303.3 km (189.5 miles). At this distance the image scale is 30.3 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~91 cm across are resolved. The image shown here [below] has been map-projected to 25 cm/pixel and north is up. The image was taken at a local Mars time of 3:20 PM and the scene is illuminated from the west with a solar incidence angle of 48 degrees, thus the sun was about 42 degrees above the horizon. At a solar longitude of 139.4 degrees, the season on Mars is Northern Summer.


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