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ALCon 2016: 40 Years Ago We Touched The Surface Of Mars

ALCon 2016: 40 Years Ago We Touched The Surface Of Mars

Recorded at the Astronomical League's 2016 convention in Alexandria, Virginia. Dr. Harold A. Geller ( @AstroBioProf / http://spacs.gmu.edu/profile/harold-geller/ ) is Observatory Director and Associate Professor at George Mason University (GMU). On the 20th day of August, 1975, the Viking 1 spacecraft was launched into space towards Mars. On the 19th day of June, 1976, the Viking 1 spacecraft reached the planet Mars. The Viking 1 Lander was to set down on the surface of Mars for the bicentennial celebration in the USA. Unfortunately, due to the ruggedness of the original chosen landing site, the Viking 1 Lander did not land on the surface of Mars until July 20th, which marked the 7th anniversary since the landing on the Moon. The robotic arm of the Viking 1 Lander malfunctioned, and, in spite of an onboard computer with only 64K of RAM, the computer was re-programmed to extend the robotic arm so that on the 28th of July, 1976, we reached out and touched the surface of Mars. Dr. Geller

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