Viking Lander 2 (Gerald Soffen Memorial Station)
Viking Lander 2 (Gerald Soffen Memorial Station)
PSP_001501_2280  Science Theme: Future Exploration/Landing Sites
Viking Lander 2 (VL2) landed on Mars on 3 September 1976, in Utopia Planitia. The lander, which has a diameter of about 3 meters, has been precisely located in the HiRISE image, and likely locations have been found for the heat shield and backshell.

The lander location has been confirmed by overlaying the lander-derived topographic contours on the HiRISE image, which provides an excellent match. VL2 was one element of an ambitious mission to study Mars, with a 4-spacecraft flotilla consisting of two orbiters and two landers.

Four subimages from this image are available. The first is an overview showing the relative locations of the lander and candidate backshell and heat shield, and the others are enlargements of each of these components.

Large boulders, dunes, and other features visible in Lander images can be located in the HiRISE image. The polygonal pattern of the surface is typical at these latitudes and may be due to the presence of deep subsurface ice.

As chance would have it, this image is blurred in some places due to the abrupt motion associated with the restart of the High Gain Antenna tracking during the very short image exposure. This is the first time after acquiring hundreds of pictures that an image has been unintentionally smeared overall performance has been excellent.

A prime motivation for early viewing of these Viking sites is to calibrate what we see from space with the data previously acquired by the landers. In particular, determining what sizes of rocks can be seen from MRO aids the interpretation of data now being taken to characterize sites for future landers.

Written by: Alfred McEwen  (4 December 2006)

Acquisition date
21 November 2006

Local Mars time

Latitude (centered)

Longitude (East)

Spacecraft altitude
304.1 km (189.0 miles)

Original image scale range
31.0 cm/pixel (with 1 x 1 binning) so objects ~93 cm across are resolved

Map projected scale
25 cm/pixel and North is up

Map projection

Emission angle

Phase angle

Solar incidence angle
51°, with the Sun about 39° above the horizon

Solar longitude
138.7°, Northern Summer

For non-map projected images
North azimuth:  98°
Sub-solar azimuth:  345.7°
Black and white
map projected  non-map

IRB color
map projected  non-map

Merged IRB
map projected

Merged RGB
map projected

RGB color
non-map projected

Black and white
map-projected   (1004MB)

IRB color
map-projected   (496MB)

Black and white
map-projected  (438MB)
non-map           (462MB)

IRB color
map projected  (154MB)
non-map           (346MB)

Merged IRB
map projected  (299MB)

Merged RGB
map-projected  (310MB)

RGB color
non map           (324MB)
B&W label
Color label
Merged IRB label
Merged RGB label
EDR products

IRB: infrared-red-blue
RGB: red-green-blue
About color products (PDF)

Black & white is 5 km across; enhanced color about 1 km
For scale, use JPEG/JP2 black & white map-projected images

All of the images produced by HiRISE and accessible on this site are within the public domain: there are no restrictions on their usage by anyone in the public, including news or science organizations. We do ask for a credit line where possible:

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The HiRISE camera was built by Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation and is operated by the University of Arizona.