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Viking 1 Orbiter

By Marty McDowell/NASA

The Viking project consisted of launches of two separate spacecraft to Mars, Viking 1, launched on 20 August 1975, and Viking 2, launched on 9 September 1975. Each spacecraft consisted of an orbiter and a lander. After orbiting Mars and returning images used for landing site selection, the orbiter and lander detached and the lander entered the martian atmosphere and soft-landed at the selected site. The orbiters continued imaging and other scientific operations from orbit while the landers deployed instruments on the surface.

NASA

Color mosaic of Olympus Mons volcano on Mars from the Viking 1 Orbiter. The mosaic was created using images from orbit 735 taken June 22, 1978. Olympus Mons is about 600 km in diameter and the summit caldera is 24 km above the surrounding plains.

Image courtesy of NASA.


Scientific instruments for conducting imaging, atmospheric water vapor, and infrared thermal mapping were enclosed in a temperature controlled, pointable scan platform extending from the base of the orbiter. The scientific instrumentation had a total mass of approximately 72 kg. Radio science investigations were also done using the spacecraft transmitter. Command processing was done by two identical and independent data processors, each with a 4096-word memory for storing uplink command sequences and acquired data.

Following launch and a 10 month cruise to Mars, the orbiter began returning global images of Mars about 5 days before orbit insertion. The Viking 1 Orbiter was inserted into Mars orbit on 19 June 1976 and trimmed to a 1513 x 33,000 km, 24.66 hr site certification orbit on 21 June. Imaging of candidate sites was begun and the landing site was selected based on these pictures. The lander separated from the orbiter on 20 July 08:51 UT and landed at Chryse Planitia at 11:56:06 UT. The orbiter primary mission ended at the beginning of solar conjunction on 5 November 1976. The extended mission commenced on 14 December 1976 after solar conjunction. Operations included close approaches to Phobos in February 1977. The periapsis was reduced to 300 km on 11 March 1977. Minor orbit adjustments were done occasionally over the course of the mission, primarily to change the walk rate - the rate at which the planetocentric longitude changed with each orbit, and the periapsis was raised to 357 km on 20 July 1979. On 7 August 1980 Viking 1 Orbiter was running low on attitude control gas and its orbit was raised from 357 x 33943 km to 320 x 56000 km to prevent impact with Mars and possible contamination until the year 2019. Operations were terminated on 17 August 1980 after 1485 orbits.

Source: NASA.

 

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Space References (Books):
Dickinson, Terence. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe. Firefly Books, 1998.
Greene, Brian. Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory. Vintage, 2000.
Hawking, Stephen. Illustrated Brief History of Time, Updated and Expanded Edition. Bantam, 1996.
Hawking, Stephen. Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe. New Millenium, 2002.
Hawking, Stephen. The Universe in a Nutshell. Bantam, 2001.
Kaku, Michio. Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps and the Tenth Dimension.
Kranz, Gene. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond. Berkley Pub Group, 2001.
Sagan, Carl; Druyan, Ann. Comet, Revised Edition. Ballantine, 1997
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos, Reissue Edition. Ballantine, 1993
Sagan, Carl. Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. Ballantine, 1997

Space References (Videos):
Cosmos. PBS, 2000.
Stephen Hawking's Universe. PBS, 1997.
Hyperspace. BBC, 2002.
Life Beyond Earth PBS, 1999.
The Planets
. BBC, 1999.
Understanding The Universe. A&E, 1996.

 

SPACE SPECS

Courtesy of NASA

Launched: August 20, 1975

Destination: Mars

Arrival: June 19, 1976

Return

Nation: U.S.

Mission: Mars orbit and mapping.


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