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  1. 1. The Viking Program • By Matt Bogdan • Period 2 Hyperlinks Quick Facts • The Viking program consisted of a pair of space probes sent to Mars—Viking 1 and Viking 2. • Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975 • The second craft, Viking 2, was launched on September 9, 1975 Specs
  2. 2. • Each vehicle was composed of two main parts: • An orbiter designed to photograph the surface of mars from orbit. • and a lander designed to study the planet from the surface Orbiters • The primary objectives of the Viking orbiters were to transport the landers to Mars • They performed reconnaissance to locate and certify landing sites,
  3. 3. act as a communications relays for the landers • The Orbiters perform their own scientific investigations, too • The orbiters also served as communication relays for the landers once they touched down. Viking Landers • The lander consisted of a six-sided aluminum base, supported on three extended legs • Rower was provided by two radioisotope thermal
  4. 4. generator units containing plutonium-238 affixed to opposite sides of the lander base and covered by wind screens. • Four 28 volts rechargeable batteries were also onboard to handle peak power loads. Biological Experiments • The Viking landers conducted biological experiments designed to
  5. 5. detect life in the Martian soil (if it existed) with experiments designed by three separate teams • One experiment turned positive for the detection of current life, but based on the results of another test that failed to reveal any organic molecules in the soil The Gas Chromatograph (GCMS) • The Gas Chromatograph — Mass Spectrometer
  6. 6. (GCMS) is a device that separates vapor components chemically via a gas chromatograph and then feeds the result into a mass spectrometer, which measures the molecular weight of each chemical. • As a result, it can separate, identify, and quantify a large number of different chemicals. • However, the GCMS measured no significant amount of organic molecules in the Martian
  7. 7. soil. The Gas Exchange (GEX) • The Gas Exchange experiment looked for gases given off by an incubated soil sample by first replacing the Martian atmosphere with the inert gas Helium. • The scientists hypothesized that metabolizing organisms would either consume or release at least one of
  8. 8. the gases being measured. • The result was negative. The Labeled Release (LR) • The Labeled Release (LR) experiment is the one that gave the most promise for the exobiologists. • In the LR experiment, a sample of Martian soil was inoculated with a drop of very dilute nutrient solution. • The result was quite a
  9. 9. surprise following the negative results of the first two tests, with a steady stream of radioactive gases being given off by the soil immediately following the first injection • The experiment remains inconclusive.