Friday Space Science: 40 Years Ago Tomorrow — First NASA Robotic Mars Landing — Viking 2

On September 3, 1976 — exactly 40 years ago, tomorrow — the US space program made an automated robotic soft landing on Mars, and started sending back pictures and data — from the surface of Utopia Planitia for another 1316 days, or 1281 Martian sols. It was switched off on April 11, 1980 — when its batteries failed.

Here is to that spirit of ’76 — that endless desire to find what Sweet Will called the “undiscovered country“. . . [I will refrain from offering any more about what I was doing — that Friday evening, smooching behind the donut shop, with that high school cheerleader, when the news of the landing came across the AM radio band. . . smile.]

Here’s to. . . our future (even as we experienced a small set-back yesterday morning with Space X) — for that is the way of all scientific exploration. We learn from our mistakes; we move forward — we continue to reach for what is beyond our current grasp. But ever moving forward.

By tomorrow night. . . I’ll be grasping. . . perfect baby-back Genghis Khan Mongolian barbequed ribs (among many other varieties due up, in the traditional extended family Labor Day competition). With a crinkly eyed Irish grin — Adios, for now only.

नमस्ते

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