Science: Postcards from Another World

Scientists mull over a colorful scrapbook from Mars

On June 19, 1976, an alien vessel, hurtling toward Mars, blasted its remaining rocket engine and moved into an elliptical orbit. It was the first of twin Viking spacecraft, each with an orbiter and a lander, launched by NASA to help satisfy man's curiosity about the possibilities of life on the planet. The Viking I orbiter's immediate chore was to survey the Martian surface and transmit pictures of potential landing sites. Once the lander was safely down (on July 20, 1976), the orbiter began snapping away...

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