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The Viking mission to Mars id the first attempt to search for signs of life on the surface of another planet. Timed to coincide with America's bi-centennial celebration, the two lander vehicles wer...e due to touch down in July 1976. This programme was filmed in California in December 1975 when the spacecraft were in mid flight for Mars. The film's aim was to show details of the planning and strategy of the mission and specifically examine the design of the scientific experiments and the criteria and rationale employed by the scientists in site selection and certification. Dr. Mike Carr describes the limited knowledge we had of Mars prior to the very successful Mariner 9 mission in 1971. Dr Hal Masursky and Dr. Gerry Soffen talk about the Viking mission detail site selection criteria and the design of the orbiting and landing spacecraft. Mike Carr concludes the programme with comparisons of the present knowledge of Martian geology with that of Earth.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: S333, Earth science topics and methods
Item code: S333; 15
First transmission date: 03-10-1976
Published: 1976
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:00
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Producer: Peter Clark
Contributors: Mike Carr; Hal Masursky
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Martian geology; Planning and strategy; Scientific experiments; Site selection; Spacecraft design; Viking mission
Footage description: John Wright (voice over shots of a Viking mock up in space) introduces the programme. Mike Carr, leader of the Viking geology team, looks first at a photograph of Mars taken from an earth based telescope. He then compares this with photographs taken from a Mariner spacecraft, pointing out particularly the two distinct hemispheres of the planet. John Wright (voice over shots of Mars) briefly introduces a discussion on landing site selection. Hal Masursky, leader of the Viking site selection team, discusses the criteria which were used to select primary and secondary landing sites. Masursky uses maps of Mars compiled from Mariner photographs to illustrate his points. John Wright (voice over Viking mock up in space) introduces a discussion on Viking design. Gerry Soffen, Viking Project scientist, uses a full scale Viking Orbiter mock-up to point out and explain the experiments which are carried out from Mars orbit. Instruments examined include a telescope camera, thermal mapper and an infra-red device for determining atmospheric water content. John Wright (voice over mock-up of Viking in space) briefly introduces a discussion on landing site certification. Hal Masursky, using geological maps of Mars, explains the criteria which were used to certify landing sites and how the data necessary to do this was obtained. Gerry Soffen uses a full scale mock-up of the Viking lander to discuss the experiments which are carried out by the craft on Mars. He points out the various pieces of equipment and lists the experiments involved. Film shots of a working mock-up of the Viking lander taking soil samples from a simulated Martian surface. Commentary (voice over) by John Wright explains what is happening. Mike Carr, using a geological map and a contour map for the area around the prime landing site, describes the geology of the area. After a brief comment by John Wright, Mike Carr compares the geology of Mars with that of Earth, particularly in the area of tectonic processes. He points out what a study of Martian geology might reveal about the geology of Earth before its break-up into tectonic plates.
Master spool number: 6HT/72209
Production number: 00525_1221
Videofinder number: 2001
Available to public: no