The Viking 2 mission was part of the Viking program to Mars, and consisted of an orbiter and a lander essentially identical to that of the Viking 1 mission. The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1,281 Mars days and was turned off on 11 April1980 when its batteries failed. The orbiter worked until 25 July 1978, returning almost 16,000 images in 706 orbits around Mars.
The craft was launched on September 9, 1975. Following launch using a Titan/Centaur launch vehicle and a 333 day cruise to Mars, the Viking 2 Orbiter began returning global images of Mars prior to orbit insertion. The orbiter was inserted into a 1500 x 33,000 km, 24.6 h Mars orbit on August 7, 1976 and trimmed to a 27.3 h site certification orbit with a periapsis of 1499 km and an inclination of 55.2 degrees on 9 August. Imaging of candidate sites was begun and the landing site was selected based on these pictures and the images returned by the Viking 1 Orbiter. The lander separated from the orbiter on September 3, 1976 at 22:37:50 UT and landed at Utopia Planitia.
The lander and its aeroshell separated from the orbiter on 3 September 19:39:59 UT. At the time of separation, the lander was orbiting at about 4 km/s. After separation, rockets fired to begin lander deorbit. After a few hours, at about 300 km attitude, the lander was reoriented for entry. The aeroshell with its ablative heat shield slowed the craft as it plunged through the atmosphere.
The Viking 2 Lander touched down about 200 km west of the crater Mie in Utopia Planitia at 48.269° N 225.990° W at an altitude of 4.23 km relative to a reference ellipsoid with an equatorial radius of 3397.2 km and a flattening of 0.0105 (47.967°N, 225.737° W planetographic) at 22:58:20 UT (9:49:05 a.m. local Mars time).
And it took this picture.
This rocky panoramic scene is the second picture of the Martian surface that was taken by Viking Lander 2 shortly after touchdown on September 3 at 3:58 PM PDT (Earth received time). The site is on a northern plain of Mars, at about 48 N. Lat., 226 W. Long., known as Utopia Planitia.
Also, on September 3rd @ 8:14am, I was born.
To share a day with something that has captivated me my entire life is truly an honor and humbling.
Mark Twain believed that his life was tied to Halley's Comet. He said,
It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don't go out with Halley's Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: "Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together."
Mr. Clemens, to take a page out of your book, and take it the one step further that I am sure you wish you could've gone were it not for being born too soon in history.I was born the day this picture was taken. The universe and all of its wonders have since inspired me my whole life in everything I do. It only stands to reason (if it only stands as reason to me) that I will make the journey to Mars, and I will come to rest on Utopia Planitia.