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Molecular Analyses The atmosphere and the soil around the lander will be analyzed to identify organic molecules, the presence of which could furnish clues about existing or extinct life. (Organic molecules could also provide evidence of prebiological processes having nothing to do with life.) Mineral Analyses The purpose of this experiment is to find out what the Martian surface is made up of in terms of chemical elements. The comparative abundance of the elements can in turn give clues as to the mineral make-up of the planet, its history and its relationship to the Earth. Soil Magnetic Properties Surface particles will be checked for magnetic properties. According to one theory, an abundance of iron in the soil gives Mars its reddish

air pressure, temperature, and wind direction and velocity around the land. ing site. Orbiter

Viking Lander, near discarded parachute and capsule, is ready to relay surface data via passing Orbiter. (Artist's concept.) The Viking Orbiter will take pictures of Mars from space; measure concentrations of water vapor in different parts of the Martian atmosphere; and gather information about surface temperatures. The Orbiter also acts as a radio relay station for the lander to send its data to Earth. (The lander will be able to transmit directly to Earth but at a much slower data rate.) Both craft will use their radios in a variety of experiments; for example,

appearance.
Soil Physical Properties Cameras, sensors, and the claw samples will provide informatio~ on such properties as cohesiveness, porosity, hardness, and particle size of the soil around the landing area. Seismology A seismometer will report on meteorite impacts and Marsquakes, if any. Quakes would indicate the planet has an active interior. Meteorology As the Lander descends, it will acquire information about the structure and composition of the Martian atmosphere, including its ionosphere. From this data, meteorologists will be able to develop a profile of the planet's atmosphere. After landing, the spacecraft becomes an automated weather station, providing data on changes in

Technician tests UHF transmitter broadcast from surface of Mars.

that will

refining measurements orbit, and atmosphere.

on Mars mass, solar

LIFE ON MARS? The Viking experiments of greatest popular interest are those concerned with detecting evidence of life on Mars. The discovery of a native living cellon Mars would be one of man's greatest achievements. It would strengthen the belief that more advanced organisms and perhaps man-like, even intelligent, civilizations could exist beyond Earth. And if the life detected were substantially different from Earth's, it would be even more fascinating and significant. The environment of Mars is hostile to life as we know it on Earth. However, Mars appears to have traces of water. It has an atmosphere which is one-hundredth as dense as Earth's and is mostly carbon dioxide, and an equatorial temperature range that would permit life to exist. In laboratory experiments simulating this Martian environment, certain bacteria and fungi have, for a time, survived and, if liquid water is present, they grow. Mariner 9 photographs of Mars show geographic features that could have been formed by flowing water. They resemble dry riverbeds on Earth. They could not have been formed by lava because no volcanic craters or vents are visible near them. Thus, Mars may have had a far wetter past than it does today. This kind of past would also mean that Mars once had a much denser atmosphere than at present. Conceivably, life could have evolved during such a period. Some forms may have adapted to changing conditions as the Martian dry spell set in. Or they may have hibernated or gone into suspended animation to await the return of more favorable conditions. Fantastic? Well, in May 1974, two scientists reported that in soil samples taken from far below the frigid surface of Earth's Antarctica, they found frozen bacteria

that may be a million years nutrients provided during terminated the dormancies and triggered them to both and reproduce. WHAT IF?

old. Heat and experiments of the bacteria move around

What if the life we thought we found on Mars had been put there by our own spacecraft? This would indeed be a scientific calamity. How is NASA to avoid this predicament? NASA's method is to sterilize the Viking lander by intensive cleaning and by literally baking it before and after sealing the lander in a bioshield. Heat levels will be such that no part of the spacecraft is cooler than 1120 Celsius (2360 Fahrenheit). This makes the chance that any Earth microorganism will reach Mars very small. MARS-A GEOLOGIST'S PARADISE

Geologists are fascinated with Mars. Stretching for more than 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) across the waist of Mars is a huge chasm with branching tributaries that dwarf the United States Grand Canyon, which was formed by water. The Martian Canyon is more comparable, however, to Earth's Great Rift Valley which stretches from the Dead Sea to Southern Africa and was created eons ago, like the Martian chasm, by a massive slippage of the planet's crust.

Martian valley resembling gully on Earth. (Manmade model based on Mariner 9 photograph)

Even more impressive is the great Martian volcanic mountain, Nix Olympica, which rises approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles) above the Martian plains. This altitude is about three times the distance from sea level to the tip of Mount Everest, Earth's highest peak. And Olympica's 536kilometer (335-mile) diameter circular scarp (retaining wall) encompasses a volcanic pile twice as wide as that which forms the main islands of the Hawaiian

The great volcanic mountain Nix Olympica. (Manmade model based on Mariner 9 photographs.)

chain, the biggest volcanic pile on Earth. Actually, nearly half of Mars seems to be volcanic in origin and extensive lava flows are visible. However, there is no evidence of current volcanic activity. There is also an interesting Martian region called "chaotic." About the size of Alaska, its series of short ridges, slumped valleys, and other irregular topography resemble the after-reffects of a landslide or quake. Nowhere on Earth is a comparable feature so vast. Another mysterious Martian region is a fairly smooth one called Hellas. Craters that pock the Martian surface stop short at Hellas, which is about as large as Texas. Scientists term Hellas a "featureless" area and, as yet, cannot explain it. Perhaps, the surface is obscured by dust clouds. While much of the Viking focus is on the search for life on Mars, Viking's objectives are quite broad. This recognizes the fact that so relatively little is known about Mars. Because of this, the area of science in which the most significant discovery may be made is unpredictable.

Close-upof great Martian equatorial chasm. (Manmade model based on Mariner 9 photographs.)

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20546 GPO: 1915 0 -511-138

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