Science: Mars: The Search Begins

As a Bicentennial spectacular, it was meant to be out of this world: a July 4 touchdown on Mars by Viking 1's robot lander to begin the search for life on the red planet. But true to its name, Mars was being belligerent. The first landing site in the Chryse region appeared so hazardous on careful photographic analysis that Viking scientists concluded late last week that a birthday landing was out. That part of the American celebration would come somewhat later.

Even as the robot was sending data to its orbiting mother ship for relay...

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