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30th Anniversary of Viking Landing on Mars 201

ewhac writes "30 years ago today, mankind paid our first visit to Mars. Viking 1 made its powered landing on the red planet on 20 July 1976 at 05:12 after an 11-month flight. Images and data from the probe were soon seen all over Earth as we got our first close-up look at our planetary neighbor. Viking 2 landed a few weeks later. Like the Pathfinder rovers that followed in 1997, Viking was expected to last but a short time -- only three months -- but instead continued to gather and return data for six years."
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30th Anniversary of Viking Landing on Mars

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  • Oops (Score:5, Informative)

    by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) * on Thursday July 20, 2006 @09:53PM (#15754132)
    The posted /. story is confusing the Mars Pathfinder [nasa.gov] mission and the Mars Exploration Rover [nasa.gov] mission. The Pathfinder mission was in 1997. The MERs landed in January of 2004 and is still running, far beyond the expected lifetime of the rovers.
  • Mod parent down (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:03PM (#15754178) Homepage

    So if you think some other woman got into space first, put up or shutup, She was and she was american.

    The Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova [astronautix.com] was first, in 1963. Even if one doesn't remember her exact name, any of us nerds should know something of the history of the space program, like the fact that the Russians put a woman up there first.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:14PM (#15754212)
    From wikipedia's page on Sally Ride: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Ride [wikipedia.org]

    Sally Kristen Ride (born May 26, 1951) is a former astronaut and became the first American woman to reach outer space, in 1983. She was preceded by two Soviet women, Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and Svetlana Savitskaya (1982).

  • by CaptainCarrot ( 84625 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:15PM (#15754221)

    Sally Ride indeed "was American" but she wasn't the first woman in space. That would be Valentina Tereshkova, who orbited the earth 20 years earlier. Sally Ride wasn't the second woman either. That was Svetlana Savitskaya, a year prior. Ride was in fact the third woman in space, albeit the first American woman.

    It is, however, true that no Soviet probes successfully landed on Mars. It's not true that they never launched. They launched 9 of them. Two failed to reach Earth orbit, two failed while in Earth orbit, one was lost en route, one missed. One made it into Martian orbit and sent back a number of images before failing. One lander crashed on the surface, the next and last separated early and didn't encounter the surface at all. The Viking missions were the first probes to successfully land on the planet and return data.

  • by Dilpo ( 980613 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:19PM (#15754242)
    I would like to see your source for Sally Kristen Ride (born May 26, 1951) is a former astronaut and became the first woman to reach outer space, in 1983.
    Everywhere I look (even on nasa's website) the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. You can google it yourself or if you are lazy simply look here http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/whos _who_level2/tereshkova.html [nasa.gov]
    The only posible conclusion I can come to as to where you got your quote is the wikipedia article for Sally Ride but even they got it right
    Sally Kristen Ride (born May 26, 1951) is a former astronaut and became the first American woman to reach outer space, in 1983.
    Nice how that one little word got left out of your quote.
  • Re:Built to last (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cherita Chen ( 936355 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:20PM (#15754247) Homepage
    Man oh man... Are you aware that there are currently two rovers on the surface of Mars that were slated to operate for 90 sols (Mars days which are roughly equal to an earth day)? Are you aware that both of those rovers have now been operational for over two years? Your comment is funny, but you sure chose a strange context in which to make your joke.

    And I've got to ask, what do you do to your computers that kills them in three months? Take em swimming?

  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:20PM (#15754249)
    So why is this, when russians sent many probes to mars beforehand?

    However, all of them crashed except for Mars 3, which sent data from the surface for a total of 20 seconds before permanently dying. You may be technically correct, but they didn't achieve anything meaningful on the surface before the Viking probes. (As far as flyby missions, both countries had sent prior probes.) Therefore, the article summary really isn't the affront to history that you make it out to be.

  • by Karma Farmer ( 595141 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @10:21PM (#15754252)
    None of the russian probes planned for mars ever launched, let alone reached the planet.
    The Soviet Mars 2 lander was the first manmade object on Mars, and the Mars 3 lander achieved the first soft landing. Both reached Mars five years before the American Viking.
  • by solitas ( 916005 ) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @11:07PM (#15754382)
    So if you think some other woman got into space first, put up or shutup, She was and she was american.

    Here: http://www.astronautix.com/articles/womspace.htm [astronautix.com]
    Go thou and read, Read, READ.

  • by Mantrid42 ( 972953 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @12:07AM (#15754554)
    Also, Viking wasn't even the first probe to land on a planet. The Russians put a probe on Venus, and it did manage to transmit data before being destroyed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venera_7 [wikipedia.org]
  • by tsa ( 15680 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @01:37AM (#15754785) Homepage
    Therefore, the article summary really isn't the affront to history that you make it out to be.

    It is. The Russions were there first. Doesn't matter how many seconds later their craft died. See here [astrodigital.org] for a nice overview of missions to Mars. Took me a while to find it since NASA doesn't talk about anyone else but themselves... Not exactly rewriting history but fishy nonetheless.
  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:25AM (#15754889)
    Mars 3 landed in the middle of a dust storm so it was literally blown away, that's why it only transmitted for 20 seconds.

    As for "little too bold", read about the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunokhod [wikipedia.org] missons.

    Besides, we've managed (I'm a Russian) a landing on Venus.
  • Re:Humans? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:33AM (#15754906) Journal
    Delay was 40 minutes one-way light time during landing.
  • Re:Dont forget (Score:5, Informative)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @02:49AM (#15754939)
    the scientific payload of the lander, which when you get right down to it is the sole purpose for the rest of the stuff existing, was 91 kg

    That's kind of a misleading statement - the payload within the lander was 91 kg, but that's totally discounting the scientific value of the orbiter, and while obviously the lander existed only as a platform for the science, I wouldn't have considered it "disposable" in the same sense that the launch vehicle was. On the other hand, without the orbiters we probably would never have heard the name "Richard Hoagland" either, so I guess there's balance in all things.

    Practically, boosting 3500+ kg to escape velocity and successfully sending it a distance of over 200 million miles in 10 months using a grand total of less than 381K kg isn't inefficient by any existing earth-bound measurement. To drive the same distance in a car would require 30 million pounds in fuel alone, and that assumes the car is getting better gas mileage than most.

    Finally, the launch vehicle itself accounted for a very small portion of the total cost of the Viking program, and was nowhere near a "multi-billion dollar" expenditure. Even today, the heaviest variant of the Atlas V (961K kg, and *much* more powerful than the Titan III-Centaur that took the Vikings up) costs about $130 million per launch. Hell, even the Shuttle is substantially less than a billion per launch. The only launch vehicle that I can think of that remotely qualifies on that level of cost is the Saturn V, but that's an entirely different beast altogether, and was very expensive mostly because of the very small number of vehicles that were built. That wasn't the case with the Titan III.
  • by sgt101 ( 120604 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @04:42AM (#15755148)
    I don't believe that the Russians did get a Mars lander before Viking.

    I think that they did get several to Venus though although the extreme conditions of Venus meant that relatively little data was returned. Unfortunately the best Russian lander managed to survive for just a couple of hours, and I belive that a freak accident prevented its main experiment from working. It was intended to sample the soil and analyse its makeup, sadly the heat shield appears to have fallen off under the scope and prevented it from getting a sample.

    Very hard on all the brilliant engineers who invested so much time.
  • by ivano ( 584883 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @04:51AM (#15755170)
    Power was provided by two radioisotope thermal generator (RTG) units containing plutonium-238 affixed to opposite sides of the lander base and covered by wind screens. Each generator was 28 cm tall, 58 cm in diameter, had a mass of 13.6 kg and provided 30 W continuous power at 4.4 volts. Four wet cell sealed nickel-cadmium 8 Ah, 28-volt rechargeable batteries were also onboard to handle peak power loads.

    From wikipwedia

    It must be bad how the world isn't what you think it is. Read some Hume please


  • Re:dust removal (Score:5, Informative)

    by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @06:00AM (#15755314) Journal
    Until some dumbass sent a wrong command to the viking lander and shut it off permanently.
    Not a good thing to put on your resume.
    "Desk jockey in extended viking science mission, until I completely screwed myself out of a job."

    Funny, all the NASA references these days seem to edit that little bit of info out, and merely say that it was shut off due to impending battery failure. Other sources - and my memory suggest otherwise.

    Ah! Here's a reference from the RISKS digest Volume 3, Issue 60 - 1986. (A digest that is still running today, and is a highly insightful window into how technology screwups mess with daily life.)

    Ground control lost contact with Viking 1, apparently due to a
    software change transmitted to the lander that was accidentally
    overlaid upon some mission-critical software already in the lander's
    computer. (Bruce Smith, "JPL Tries to Revive Link with Viking 1",
    @ux(Aviation Week and Space Technology), April 4, 1983, Volume
    118(14), page 16.)

    A scanned image of the mentioned article [hiwaay.net], right at the bottom of the page.

    Revisionist history, indeed.
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Friday July 21, 2006 @07:02AM (#15755420) Journal
    Yea..but the Russian sent a probe to land on VENUS which in my view is MUCH more a kick ass achievement. AND it transmitted for at least 45 min before melting?


    Temps: 900+ degree
    Pressures: Don't have figures..but it will definitely make your ears pop :)
    Weather: It rains sulfuric Acid

    Venus is as close to literal Hell as you can get (without trying to land on the sun). I want to see NASA design a craft to land on VENUS.
  • What would Lenin do? Order a few thousand dissenters to be executed and cause a small famine by trying to collectivize the farms, then give up and reintroduce market farming under a New Economic Program. (To actually pull off collectivization required someone with more stomach for mass famine and mass murder--Stalin.)

    Or, in other words:

    Yes because providing jobs and living quarters for any/all Negroes is an archaic and horrible practice. Better to have the majority of Negroes paying for their housing, and a job market dependent on an erratic economy that could -- at a moment's notice -- send millions into the streets as beggars.... If Negroes are to prosper, we must ask ourselves: WWCD (what would the confederacy do)? The slave states pwned the North in many ways, and if the Confederacy hadn't made a few critical errors I I very much doubt the North would've been the victor in the civil war.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.