tv NASA Viking Mission to Mars CSPAN September 3, 2016 8:25am-10:01am EDT
historians discuss the viking program was land of the first u.s. spacecraft on mars on july 20, 1976. they also talk about the scientific experiments on mars and how the program evolved. the nasa research center hosted this event. it is about 90 minutes. >> good afternoon, everyone. welcome to the langley -- i am old england, director technology and inspiration at langley and i want to welcome our panel today, which is going to serve as the kickoff event, the inaugural event for our two-day celebration of the viking 40th anniversary. we have an esteemed panel. i will introduce you to them by name, and bill will give you details on their background and what it is that got them here. let me start by saying these are nasa historians.
one with a pedigree of nasa and aerospace history, which is deep abroad and will have a fascinating discussion today. let me start out, dr. bilberry to my right is a current nasa chief historian from nasa -- from watching nbc roger,right is dr. currently the associate director of collection and territorial affairs at the smithsonian institution. to his right is dr. eric conway, the gpl historian and former langley historian. he spent time here before we sent them out to jpl. current glenn, the history and nasa ames. let me introduce you dr. bill barry from headquarters will moderate our panel, and give us the beginnings of a great story.
thanks, bill. [applause] >> thanks, walt. good afternoon, everybody. this is a great opportunity for us all to learn about viking and what happened 40 years ago. i imagine that 40 years ago today, on the 19th of july 1976, there was a lot of nailbiting and concern going on in the langley area and perhaps the other side of the coast out in california. for good reason. getting to mars was really hard to do and we were attempting to lead a vehicle on mars. no one had done it before successfully. not that people had not tried. at least there were six attempts to land on mars up to that point. none of them were completely successful. mars 3 not a great success.
folks here were understandably nervous. the space age had been going on since 1957, almost 20 years. getting to mars was harder. it was becoming more and more of the goal. many of you may have been involved him or know more about it. it was an exciting time. we were reaching out to find new information to try and make a big leap in terms of understanding whether or not there was life on mars, and to learn more about the planet mars. it was a big, difficult step. tomorrow, on the anniversary, there is going to be a symposium that will cover what we are doing in the future and how the policy connect to what we have done in the past. you will get an opportunity to met people involved in the program. today, our objective is to get an historical background in the
viking program and to think about some of the big pictures and big stories that you will find very interesting. are nasa panelists historians. before we get there, for those of you who were not there, i have a video that my friends put together about the 40th anniversary. it is about 4.5 minutes long. those of you who do not know about biking, will learn about it. those of you who know, we'll see familiar faces. we will show it right now. ♪ [video clip] ♪ announcer: in exploration, there are great moments of
success and moments of setback. lasting memories forever at -- etched in our combined experience that forges stronger resolve to reach new heights and explore the unknown. as we gaze off into the solar system, something in our humanity pushes us to move forward. we began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. we have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. we are ready at last to set sail for the stars. >> liftoff of the atlas v with curiosity. the puzzle about life on mars. announcer: nasa has been on the journey of exploration for more than half a century, a journey to mars. from mariner to phoenix and to maven and beyond, we have placed the marks of human ingenuity on and around the red
planet. 40 years ago, nasa's viking project found its place in history. july 20, 1976. viking 1 was the first human probe to land on the surface, return images and data, and conduct science experiments on mars. viking was a bold step for its time and a huge undertaking for nasa. nasa employees, contractors, and industry across the country designed elements of this project. viking consistent of two identical spacecraft with a payload of a lander and an orbiter each. viking 1 and 2 were launched in august and september of 1975. pair orbiter and lander
flew together and entered the mars orbit, and it dissented to the planet's surface for their planned 90 day missions. viking 1 was originally targeted to land on july 4, 1976, our nation's bicentennial, but images from the orbiter showed the planned landing site to be too rocky. after reconsidering the options, a new site was selected, and viking 1 touchdown on july 20, seven years to the day after the day after the apollo 11 crew touched down on the moon. the lander sent photographs and collected data on the martian surface. the scientific consensus from the viking experiments was that mars was self sterilizing due to the solar ultraviolet radiation, extreme dryness of the soil, and the oxidizing nature of the soil chemistry. this search for life on mars came up empty, but valuable data about mars, both from the surface and from the orbit, was
gathered. the orbiter and lander duo outpaced their directions, operating for two to six years. the final transmission to earth on november 11, 1982. today, our orbiters and rovers have changed the ways we look at mars and continue to make unprecedented scientific discoveries, while also answering long-held questions about mars and its relationship to earth, our solar system and beyond. we are working hard to develop the systems and technology humankind will one day used to live and work on the red planet and safely return home. "if i have seen further, it is by standing up on this shoulders giants." the eventual first human footsteps on mars have as their steppingstones the vital robotic
explorers that paved the way for our journey to mars. [end video clip] bill: so a snapshot of viking, and there is so much more to tell about viking. we will hear about some of that tomorrow and details of that, but today, our three panelists are going to talk about the three aspects of expiration you will find fascinating. we will start with roger, venus, earth, mars comparative , climatology, to set the stage for mars and what the objective is there. all three of these are good friends of mine. walter was the chief historian before me. the chief historian from nasa
from 1999 until 2002. a nasa historian emeritus, and then our second speaker today will be erik conway, as you know, formerly the historian at langley before the folks at jpl took him away from you. and he will be talking about that nexus actually, the connection between viking, jpl, and langley and how that played out and how it went from pasadena to hampton, and then finally, we will close out the presentations today talking about the science experiments on viking. as you know, glenn is a historian out at ames. hole through these german are great colleagues of mine and i know they will give you a presentation today. and so i will turn it over to roger to get started. [applause]
figuring out which one is yours. roger: here we are. i met the smithsonian at the , national air and space museum, which i am certain is the favorite museum of anyone in this room. am i correct? notwithstanding the aerospace -- virginia air and space center, and i do have to start with a little bit of a plug. we have just reopened to our milestones of flight hall, the central hall in the museum are you enter the building. it has been undergoing renovation. we have moved in and out several objects and we have explain them
in unique and exciting ways, and the viking lander has been conserved and put into an exhibition to tell the story in a wonderful way. so please, come and visit. it would be a pleasure to show you around. i want is a -- what i want to do today is talk about venus and earth and mars. the three sisters when we talk about life in the solar system, and notwithstanding possibilities of moves around a -- moons around a jupiter and saturn, but i want to take you back to the 19th century to begin with. and just to emphasize, venus and mars have both been places where we have fantasized -- that might be too strong a term -- at least, we have speculated that life could have existed there. venusxt enchanted us --
enchanted us in all kinds of ways. it is our closest neighbor. it is the closest in size, and then that sheet of clouds around it gave it an aura of mystery that until the space age we were not able to know too much about. mars has harbored this long believed that might be life there or in the past may have been life. something that we are exploring today. it was not until we were actually able to send robotic explorers there in the space age that we began to see that these two world were slightly -- strikingly different than what we anticipated. i don't want to dwell on this picture, but it is basically the goldilocks. venus is too hot. mars is too cold. earth is just right that is sort of what we know about it but there is a lot more complexity to it but that is one explanation that makes sense. but venus has always been one also in which we thought there would be the possibilities of life, and there are fascinating theories about this that circulated both in the 19th
century as well as into the 20th century. that hope of life has always been present there. i love this quote from an astronomer in 1911. "we have reason to believe it is habitable, for the conditions we named as essential to life. form andr in a liquid temperature, all undoubtedly realized." that is how wrong he was. he is not the only one in that category, and he was a serious astronomer. there was a popular theory that existed and i remember reading , science fiction as a kid that sort of took this model. that the sun is gradually cooling, and at least for the terrestrial type planets, as it has done so, each of the planets have been in the so-called goldilocks zone, so mars at one time was and is now a dying
planet. earth is flourishing, and venus is probably a precambrian type of experience, probably with dinosaurs underneath that cloud cover. that was a very common theory. that theory had currency up until the early 1960's, and in a jpl publication about mariner to the first fewr 2 , pages of the book talk about that particular theory, and they were going to try to either confirm or disprove it. of course, they disprove it very graphically but that was a serious development. i always like to mention this guy because he was also a believer in venus and life existing there. "a great part of the service of
mars is no doubt -- venus is no doubt covered in swamps. corresponding to those on earth in which coal deposits were formed. most of it up a lot to the vegetable kingdom and the organisms are nearly of the same kind all over the planet. now, that if 1918. obviously, there is a lot learned since that time, much of it coming with the ability of nasa, and to a lesser extent the soviet union who sent probes to mars. -- venus. those are the ideas that exist. i do not need to talk about this particular slide. obviously, we know about the runaway greenhouse effect that was postulated in the first part of the space age that turned out to be correct. planetary reconnaissance was really something that made it possible for us to come to grips with this question of life beyond earth. we mostly as humans want to believe it is there.
in fact, i could take a poll in this room. in fact, i will. how many of you believe that life exists somewhere outside of the planet? how many do not believe? nobody is willing to raise their hand on that one. ok, there is a couple. i ask that a lot, and overwhelmingly, people say yes. i believe it is out there. me, too, by the way, and then i ask the next question, do we have any evidence for it? and we really don't. not yet. but maybe we will find it. we want to believe it is there, and we have always looked at these planets of venus and mars as sites where this might exist. well, planetary reconnaissance really became possible with the rise of nasa and the birth of space science in the early 1960's. caltech convened a planetary in 1960.es conference
carl sagan was an organizer with will kellogg. they looked at a number of questions they might be able to explore as they moved beyond this planet to undertake a wreck in order at venus and mars. they helped set the stage for the activity that would follow on both of this plan is struck the 1960's and beyond. there have been a variety of missions to venus. there is a long list of them here. i do not need to read them for you, but i will simply say it has characterized that particular planet as one in which we are reasonably confident, reasonably, that life does not exist, at least not life that is beyond a microorganism stage, although there has been some recent developments in the last 20 years or so that suggested there might be traces of water molecules in venus's atmosphere. what does that mean? we are not sure, but there is
still that potential out there, and there are those that hold onto that hope that maybe we will be able to determine something more authoritative and the possibility of life either in the past or even presently existing. it would probably not be life they could communicate with. it is clearly not going to be dinosaurs, which was an earlier concept, but something out there. mars has always been a place we thought it was there. we truly did. there has been a long-standing public interest in mars. we have been observing it for centuries, and astronomers and the general public has developed this whole iconography about what mars is and what we could expect when we got there. in the latter part of the 19th century, giovanni schiaparelli lowelllly, percival talked about the canals on mars , and postulated that this was
the creation of an advanced civilization. it had to be an advanced civilization, one that was technologically sophisticated or they would not have been able to build those canals to move water from the polls to the center part of the planet. lowell also wrote a book in 1905 in which he speculated on the nature of all of the activities on mars and created a complete fiction but something he thought was based upon scientific data about what civilization on mars might be like. he did not take very long for novelists especially hg wells, , to come up with their own and turn it into stories, and "war of the worlds" was a great example of that. and by the way, from cosmopolitan in 1908, when it ran a serialization of the "war of the worlds" novel by hg
wells, and this is a representation of what they envisioned martian civilization to look like. since it has lower gravity, they were probably birdlike creatures with feathers. maybe they can fly. there is all kind of weird speculation that results from this. but it is fueled a whole first half of the 20th century enthusiasm for the potential for life on mars. and it was real. this was not fake stuff. there were scientists who were engaged in this, including a -- christopher lowell, best percival lowell gentleman , scholar, not a trained academic. and as for lowell there, you can on the left the map of mars he created based on his observation. and you can see these canals,
long, straight lines that he believed would deliver water from places that were barren or desert like. only in a hydraulic society, it can only exist if you have a strong centralized probably , worldwide structure of organization. and that is the story that came down. so if you ever read any of the edgar rice burroughs john carter stories about "barsoom" or saw that horrible film called "john carter of mars," that was the kind of stuff that was being speculated about. it did not take long to send probes to learn that it was strikingly different. i love this particular picture. it's was a cartoon from "the
washington post" in 1964. it's lyndon johnson looking at pictures from mariner 4, which reached mars, and his question is, are these of mars or vietnam? those of you who are a little older may get the joke. those of you who are a little younger may not. vietnam was a major conflict of the 1960's in which there was a lot of loss of life and destruction, and he is characterizing something he did not think they would find on mars, craters that were not anticipated at all, and, indeed, i can recall as a kid in grammar school in the mid-1960's, the textbook that we used in science class talked about how they knew there was life there. there had to be life there, because earth observation had seen the pattern changes on the
surface and color changes. plants dying at the end of the season or something like that, and the speculation was, well, it is probably not sophisticated life, but something like lichens or some kind of plant life that might be doing this. this was the mid-1960's. nevermind the fact that i did go to public school in south carolina, so that might have made a difference, but my suspicion is that was a textbook that was used a lot at the time in a lot of different places in that same period. and it was not until nasa began to explore mars in a serious way that we began to learn differently. we have learned a great deal about it. by the way, here is one of the images of mariner 4 to give you a sense of what i'm talking about. since that time we have flown all kinds of missions to mars. we have characterized it in ways that probably are not a surprise to those who began the exploration in the 1960's.
with a series of flybys and some rovers and landers as well. they all have been remarkably important, a set of developments that change the nature of what we think about mars. but our hope, our desire to believe that there is life there has not abated. or at the very least past life there has not abated, in spite of the fact that we have failed thus far to confirm any evidence, to uncover any evidence to support that contention. past life probably may be there. we have not found any ironclad to believe it yet. i know some people in the audience might want to argue with me on that. there is no formal, confirming evidence. viking, of course, is one of the greatest missions nasa has undertaken. there is no question about that.
that soft landing on mars in 1976 with those two landers and two orbiters that continue to do important work was an important mission. we had experiments aboard to try to determine if there might be some sort of support for this contention about life. we did not find anything that was a consensus account on this. orbitersnd one of the the face on mars which has been used by the ufo community for years as a reason to believe it is out there. of course, mars global surveyor or took a picture of the same location a number of years later and found that that picture that you see at the right, it is just the shadows and the way in which
the picture was taken and the time of day that led to that so-called face. nonetheless, we still see this pop up over and over and over and over. again, most recently in a really fundamental way and in a feature film that nasa helped with. called "mission to mars," in 2000, i believe, and that become sort of the centerpiece of the end of the story. oh, my goodness gracious. a bit of a problem. but we have yet to determine whether or not there is life or was life on mars in any definitive way. we have taken lots of missions. most of them have not really been successful. there have been a lot of failures, the u.s. has had the most success is. and by all means, we should celebrate that but we also need to recognize that it is hard to
go to mars and do anything useful there. five to 20 missions since 1990 have failed. one only partially successful. four of those failures were u.s. not something to be unconcerned about long-term. i hope we will continue to search for that possibility that life may have existed. some people have speculated, and i love the wit behind this. when mars observer disappeared in 1993 en route to mars, there are those that suggested that in the aftermath of the viking landings the martians created a global defense system, and anything that came nearby, they just nailed it and took out. and then this google cartoon
-- political cartoon suggests that particular story. obviously, it did not happen because we have had a lot of landings since that time. but we continue to be energized by the possibility that life is out there, and nothing says more about that than they mars meteorite of 1996. and we all know the story. there was the potential that this meteorite might have had some evidence of ancient martian life as a part of it. it was vetted properly, published, and created the greatest furor i think i saw when i was that nasa, and this went down to a presidential press conference with bill clinton talking about this potential. and while it proved out that there were other explanations that were more consistent with what we understand about meteorites and the elements that they found there, it nonetheless incited a lot of attention and has continued to do so. mostly, i would contend that
it is the potential of life, because that is what we fundamentally want to know as humans. geologists may not be focused on that, but a lot of the rest of us are. -- and it is time for me to quit. my director is giving me the high sign here. these follow the water scenario has yielded all kinds of abundant evidence of ancient life on mars, but we have yet to confirm that. so my poor question i guess i would ask about all of this is so what? many think we will still find some evidence of life on mars and maybe even on venus, but there has been a whole succession of inconclusive results of the present. fundamentally i think we want to believe, and every disconfirming piece of evidence does not force us to say no there was never any life there. we typically say we have not looked in the right place or in the right way, we have not asked
right questions, and we carry on. i like the tagline from the x-files, "i want to believe," and so do i. i would like to believe that there is life out there, and i hope we find it. i hope we do so in my lifetime. but the clock is ticking. thank you very much. [applause] walt: and now, chief historian erik conway. let's see which one is yours. erik: for those of you who have not been, this is jpl. a misleadingly green year.
it is much browner now. we are wrapping up year six of our drought. and we are heading into another one. the story i want to tell you is about a mission originally called voyager. this is not the voyager that you are probably used to, the two spacecraft that went to jupiter and saturn, and then one continued on to uranus. that is a later version a later , project that you on the same name. this voyager project that i will talk to about today started in 1962, and it began as a means of developing technology to land on mars. in the early 1960's, jpl was managing the program. at the same time jbl was having a lot of trouble with another project, the ranger series of lunar impactors. they kept failing to hit the mode. yet jpl had greater ambitions
than that. the first planetary mission to venus in 1962. the first mars mission, 1965, and these lander studies are going on throughout this whole period. i will let this little film click -- clip we made that tells a little bit more about voyager here. [video clip] ♪ announcer: at the beginning of the space race, jpl talk to -- proposed to nasa to send in our motto across the solar system. now jpl knew how hard it really was to reach another planet. yet, in a reversal of roles, nasa was now pushing the bold missions. the agency wondered, like the massive rockets needed to launch astronauts to the moon, they used for robotic missions to the planets. >> the ideas gained favor at nasa headquarters. the next mission would be to
mars. and that meant that the 575 pounds we were able to send mariner 4 would be succeeded by 50,000 pounds. one leap. this was insane. >> two large spacecraft with entry capsules, two of them, all sat on top of a big saturn 5. it was monstrous. orbiters with circle and map the planet in detail while landers would search for life on the surface. >> it was very fortunate for all of us and everybody that that thing got canceled. erik: we make these little films about ourselves and the documentary series i've been working on in my years at jpl in
opportunity to digitize old film, to collect and digitize old images and to capture on modern, high definition video tape, remembrances of some of the key actors before they pass along. since we did this, both of those gentlemen have passed away. what they told you was jpl's perspective on this program, the large-scale saturn 5 class mission. they did not think it was reasonable in the 1960's with the facilities, knowledge, manpower, the funds that were available, and yet this went ahead because this is what nasa headquarters wanted, and the viking history in mars, you should see it in the library. it is red, as the planet is. it recounts this same story from headquarters perspective. jpl dragging their feet.
disinterested, wanting to do more modest missions. those two perspectives i want you to keep in mind. this plays out further in our story. voyager, the saturn 5 class, jpl, as you saw, was not enthusiastic. the payload cost went over $2 1967on in $1976 -- dollars. itself, and what brings about -- you are approaching something of apollo itself, and what brings about its demise in the packaging is actually an error of timing, and now the johnson space center part, but what had happened was the congressman, i believe he is the chair of the funded nasatee that was very supportive of voyager. , he liked the idea, but from
his perspective, the space center put out an rfp, for proposals for a mars sample return by astronauts and this , was far, far out of what they wanted to spend or defense. a manned mission to mars or venus by 1975 or 19 87 is now -- is now and has always been 1977 out of the question. anyone who persists in this at this time is going to be stopped, and in the process of stopping it, voyager went away, too. now, i am a historian of technology by training, and i mostly like to tell stories about engineering and program management relative to science and to other people. in a sense of project
management, this was an abject failure. it does not go anywhere, but it certainly has an offspring, he gets it served as the umbrella under which a number of technology development are undertaken by the research center that then makes them the place to go when nasa headquarters once to reformulate a more modest mars mission, so i want to talk about one specific area of that. in the voyager program, jpl led. there were contracts, industry, and design study, and in the process, jpl and langley and industry developed some models. in this case, i chose the mars atmosphere to talk about. you cannot really read it back there, but it shows three possible entry densities for the mars atmosphere that the lander might have to be designed to. these are necessary for systems. you're probably all more familiar with the general
problem of landing on mars, which came from mariner 4 again, and with a high unknown density variation, so you could not do what is frequently done here in the earth's atmosphere. the variation at sea level is 4%. so he shields and -- heat shields and parishes do not work as well. and worse, you cannot check your performance as well. so a series of programs to look at, in this case, parachutes is what i'm going to talk about here. parachute performance in such rarefied atmospheres deployed at supersonic speed. a planetary parachute program. i am showing you digitize film from one of their tests. they doow slowly things. we have really changed in the way we think and process
imagery, i think, and we began using windtunnel simulations to design and test potential parachutes. this is using the earth's stratosphere for mars entry in 1967 and 1968. you see it did not go perfectly. but the parachute generally held together. and i think these activities, these engineering activities gave langley the technological edge. and it had another advantage in its performance on its first space mission with lunar orbiter. a little bit more about lunar orbiter and surveyor, which was done by jpl. in the early 1960's, jpl was working on both of those, an
orbiter and a lander. the idea was that they would use essentially the same spacecraft to do very different missions. they quickly discovered it would not really work out. the lander would have to be too different. they were more interested in doing the lunar lander job, and so they kind of dragging their feet on the orbiter parts, and headquarters eventually noticed they were not doing anything, and they went looking for someone else. around about the same time, and the timeframe is a little hard to parse out, rca has developed a spy satellite for the cia. this is all very classified and sometime in the 1990's, it became the lunar orbiter. they marketed it to nasa headquarters after permission to declassify not that much of it. they approached langley about managing it. and that, in essence, is what happened.
langley hired a man by the name of jim martin to manage that program away from the aviation. -- republic aviation. it went on to great success. i had this poster hanging back in my office when i was at jpl. excuse me, here at langley. [laughter] erik: this is what was in my office, because the lunar orbiter was very successful. it had five launches and five successful missions. surveyor, on the other hand, got a lesser public reputation, shall i say. it was quite successful, about five of seven mandates and a , enormous crossover. when started, nasa headquarters wanted jpl to handle it with a contractor in carver city. the contractor had a lot of trouble, and that management style was eventually reversed.
they eventually flooded the factory with jpl people, bringing a lot of it back in-house. it was the largest cost overrun in a romantic -- robotic program before viking, and then it left a bad taste in her mouth about contract management, and they wanted to go back to doing in-house, so i think the stories also give langley a leg up when it comes to figure out how to repackage voyager. one orbiter was managed by jim martin. hired in 1964, he was given the voyager task about two months before, so therefore it became his job to figure out how to fix it. what martin had to do was a little bit different than what langley had traditionally done. as a research center, it had done research. it had not done large-scale project management. it had not done a lot of
contracting, and there were extensive ties to industry because of his work in aviation, and so, he went to work with jpl to reformulate what becomes known very briefly as titan mars. it remained on a typing class launch vehicle. by may of 1968, his work with jpl had managed to resolve the issue of who would manage this. initially, jpl was looking at what would be a more reasonable mission but could not check up the boxes of understanding all of the things that had to be done for landing, as i understand the story, so it became that jpl built the orbiters in-house.
,f there were to be orbiters the other possibility was what was known as a flyby, what is similar as what was done by the pathfinder decades later. it dropped the lander and continued on. and langley research center would manage it, which would be contracted to industry. langley of course, no facilities , for building that kind of thing, and finally, there is a third factor in that the headquarters wanted langley to continue to be a larger player in the space part of the nasa enterprise. that was one of the reasons it wanted them to manage the lunar orbiter. it's had wanted to give them viking. headquarters wanted someone to do the job, and not jpl. this film, you already saw it before, i clicked it from the
same video. it just shows you what they meant by out of orbit, because we had not done it, at least not for mars. in december 1968 is when this mission, this out of orbit mission is chosen, and the name of viking is assigned. this had not actually been langley's recommendation. they had advocated for the flyby bus because it was simpler, more attractive, and maybe lower cost, but it was not deemed it was ambitious enough by the nasa leadership at the time. not sufficient enough to beat the russians. and i am always exactly on time, because i wanted to leave you at the end of this talk with the vehicles under construction, but as i went around, and understood that jpl never digitized its images, so what i am leaving you
with is another test. this is when they built and assembled the dynamic test model of the vehicles, proving the assembly could actually be done. this image is from november 1973. thanks. [applause] walt: if you are filled with burning questions in your mind, we will have a question and answer session, it will be after glenn. we will get you set up here, glenn. glenn: thank you. so if you needed to design a logo to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the viking landings, would you pick a blue sky or a red sky? nasa headquarters developed a number of logos that could be
used in conjunction with this, and they chose both. the events surrounding the week of july 20, 1976, were incredibly exciting. when the lander landed, it was almost powered up, and they had programmed in two photographs to be taken so that they could be delivered fairly quickly, and for nasa to be able to confirm that the lunar had landed on mars. the image you see was the first image to come through. directly making sure that the pad, had, in fact, touched the ground, that the ground was solid, that it looks like the lander was upright.
the camera technology was was a facsimile. for those of you do not know about fax machines, it scanned from left to right. strips of the photograph would appear. they were basically describing the image as it came through. about 5:00 in the morning, half an hour after it had landed. it was a stunning experience, i am sure, for everyone in the room. a couple of hours later, the second image appeared, higher resolution, showing a panorama of the landscape. again, very exciting for those on the team, able to describe what mars might actually be like and the prospects of whether or not the mission would find biological life. now, a day after that, communication was improved with
the lander, and they decided to use the camera's to take a color picture. they had that capability, putting the image through a three color lens. the image that came back was the one that the nasa imaging team released to the public, and in doing the imaging, the team lead said this is a wonderful depiction. we now know that mars is not just a red dot in the sky. we can actually see it as a planet. it almost looks like it could be a western desert with the red rocks and the blue sky, and jim pollock, on the imaging team, he was an expert in the atmosphere. he said wait a second. , the sky really should be red, and everybody thought about that for a minute, and they went back to their computers, recalibrated
the image and realized that all the excitement all that time , they had spent interpreting the image that had appeared so quickly that they made a mistake in calibrating the colors, so wanting to be careful, a few days later, july 26, they released a corrected color image of mars, which shows the sky to be red, and now we know that mars can be either color, depending on the atmosphere conditions, depending on when in the day you take the picture. a few weeks after this, the imaging team took a picture of mars at sunset, which saw that blue tint. i think in describing the second biological experiment, reflecting back on the blue sky, it is a good way to start. in part the first lesson to be
, learned is that everybody in this room before they report to work in a nasa facility needs to get a good night sleep. mistakes. that was the first thing that everybody on the project learned. the second thing is that working inside a fishbowl is very different, and the viking really was a fishbowl like what the apollo was. the results came back quickly. the results took some time to interpret. we knew that was going to be the case. scientists expect it would take some time to figure out what was going on. it took a lot of time to explain once misconceptions have been out there of what the situation on mars was. it also turns our attention to her chauvinism, which was a term that carl sagan used at the
time. at mars, but we have to be open to the possibility that things could be very different, simply because you expect the sky to be blue, it does not mean that you should not question that, and check your data. so in terms of putting the biological experiments into historical context, something you're going to hear a lot about from people you are hearing from tomorrow. they were there that week. everybody that i have spoken with reflects tremendous excitement about everything they are learning about mars, very quickly, and trying to make sense of it. the history of viking is usually ind within academic history the context of exobiology, the search for life. if you want to read a book about it, another former nasa historian has written about it
and the role that viking played in shifting that perspective. and to his mind, it focuses to understand the connection between life and atmospheres, and to some degree, that is how a lot of people understand the viking experience. it, to some degree, brought an end to our search for life on mars. the search for life outside of earth shifted to different topics. seti looking for organics, , looking at astro chemistry and carbon molecules, planetary space, looking at exit planets, nets the type of , organisms we find here on earth, but what i would like to do in the short time i have is to look at this, and here the history is not as well developed. the best history of the viking
after the done soon viking program ended, and it is a tremendous amount of work that the people put into making it a success, and then if you want to look at the jpl perspective on that history, it picks up later. a book trying to understand the engineering required to get to mars and to understand it. what i would like to do, to a degree, the viking program was a precursor. it did not happen for 17 years, but a lot of what was learned in viking made that possible, and expansion of the engineering model, which is basically how scientists understand the planet to be so they can develop technology to land there. another reason it works as a precursor, if you look at this, you have got the orbiters that we talked about, but because of the differences, the viking
program combined the two and gave us a more complete, comprehensive picture of what mars was. for the next two decades that was the data we headed over to make sense of what mars was like, so here is a very quick rundown of the signs returned from viking. there is a lot more going on with viking than just the biological experiments. the orbiter, of course, was primarily for imaging. that imaging was incredibly important. it increases the resolution of the photographs we have, and 10% showed to the degree we had that realize the effects of water on the surface. there was a spectrometer that showed the water in the atmosphere, which was very slim. and when the lander separated from the orbiter and went through the atmosphere, there were instruments on that, and that was probably the biggest itt -- contribution that
made to the model. we are all very well aware of the challenges of coming through the atmosphere. this was the first time it had been done and the first of we got good, solid data. and what is going on in the upper atmosphere, the ionosphere before reentry physics became an issue. the atmosphere structure, once it separated, we were able to see how slowly it was moving through the atmosphere, the density, the temperature, so that we could understand it better. once the lander was on mars, there is what i would call some incidental data discovery. that is simple operations of the spacecraft that returned some data about what the soil looked like. the particles, to see whether they stuck together, to give us some sense of what we needed to do to do the landing better. it returned some very interesting information about the content of the soil.
of course, there were imagers, two cameras, what the service of -- service of mars looks like, but also a reference for the experiments as they were preceding. and then there was a lot to be gained from the radio signs, looking at the shift in the radio, to understand how quickly mars was moving rotationally within its orbit. and then there were the more active instruments, the more complicated instruments. there was a seismology instrument that said something about the structure of the core. that was the only instrument that did not operate perfectly. it failed to deploy. we did not get network information from the two. there was a meteorology station, basically a weather station that recorded temperatures, wind direction, wind speed.
viking lasted greater than five years, two different places on the planet. there is tremendous data that we got about weather patterns on mars. again, certainly the weather was very different from earth, but being able to talk about martian weather was something to do on a regular basis. the x-ray fluorescence spectrometer was a fairly standard instrument at the time. it was basically to describe the composition of major mineral elements and organic elements in the martian soil. a big instrument, one that was new was the mass spectrometer. it basically allowed nasa scientists to explore the possibility of molecular organic material on mars. significantly, that showed there were no carbon molecules.
there was no organic material from which could develop. that sort of set the tone for everything to happen in a biology experiment package. now, the biology experiment package was a big deal. it had been in development for almost a decade. they were not expensive until viking, andpart of then they became very expensive, in the fact there is a sealed container about the size of a gallon milk jug. very light, many hundreds of thousands of parts, hundreds of things that needed to operate, many different types of sensors, so it was a very complex piece of machinery. that said, it worked perfectly from an engineering perspective. there is one issue with a soil sample, but other than that, everything on the machine worked as it should have, and this is something that nasa had never done before in the sense of an experiment.
there was a machine where you certainry conditions. it could be in the dark or the light, certain nutrients. time for the samples to be incubated, such that we learned an enormous amount about the chemistry of mars, and my time is running up, but this is a picture of how complicated the biological experiment was. the top shows an image of all of the different parts of the machine that had to be put in there. below that is a picture of the experiment package, getting a sense of how small it was to do, how much it did, and they got an gas exchange experiment, a laboratory, very heavily tested, very heavily calibrated. these machines were taken to all
sorts of potential analog sites around the earth to see if they could detect life there in those extreme environments, and then in the bottom, we see two people that i will conclude with to a degree polar opposites of the biological experiment. in the back is richard young, at the biology program office. basically encourage scientists to come up with machines that could automatically, remotely, without human intervention, identify the possibility of microbial life. he represented in the telling of the story the sort of enthusiasm of the possibility of finding life on mars and developing a robotic experiment package that could, in fact, do that. now, i do not have time to go into all of the nuances, but the basic outline of the story is
that, very quickly, they loaded soil into the equipment and a , few days after that, all three of the biological experiment packages returned something that looked like signs of life, but not exactly, and in trying to find out how it did not fit the model, the scientists involved in the program, and at that point scientists around the world, were exploring whether or not these could be biological effects or whether or not they were chemical effects from the surface. unfortunately, we did not know at that time a lot about oxidizing materials on the surface. since then, we know a tremendous amount. and the guy at the front of the picture is one of the heroes of history as far as i'm concerned. he pieced together very complicated life sciences that served as the fundamental research organization, not just looking at exobiology, but it
looked at microgravity and human factors. his role was to come up with a consensus of opinion of what the results showed, and this was his difficult job within a fishbowl in the viking program, to explain to the press that there are these results, and it will take a long time to figure out exactly what is going ambition, wherewithal, funding for another experiment that would allow the detection of life, we could at least go back , look at viking as a precursor mission to allow us to understand more about mars. that is why i think viking is so historically significant. not simply as a way of sending the life science package up there and making some ambiguous statement about the presence of
life, but rather starting a final process. that is where i will end. [applause] walt: all right, we have some time for some questions and answers, and i will be moderating the questions. there are microphones out there. please make your way if you have a question to the microphone. speak up. we will endeavor to answer your questions from a historical perspective. and while people are making their way to the microphone, let me take the moderator privilege and throw the first question out. viking landing on mars, and then there is a long gap in exploration. what is the story behind that? do you want to take a shot at it, erik? you need a microphone, as well.
erik: ok. ok. [no audio] this actually goes into change, -- [inaudible] this actually goes into change, 1978, 1979. the administration comes in and they would never get the planetary findings. that went on for a couple of years, and then mars observer. and it turned out that mars observer worked, but there are
political reasons why there is no funding for planetary science in that time other than galileo. >> another part of the store has -- the story has do with the the life science experiment. that was probably the biggest question that nasa could have answered, and the results were null, but it did not return the absolutely yes answer that would have driven funding for the mars mission almost instantaneously. instead, it became a long time where people were trying to make sense of the data that was returned, and it was not as interesting or compelling as the story had been up to then. walt: thanks. i think we have a question now. >> i have a question about the
role of ed cartright. i understand he may have been working on voyager, the program you described, and then he came down here or something like that? maybe you could elaborate more? erik: the story that ed told me when i interviewed him probably about 1999 or 2000 was that he was sent down here to make sure that viking was completed successfully, but also, as i mentioned in my talk, to help further push langley being more into this space and nasa business. there was a great deal of resistance to that within the population here. langley was a research center. they had aerodynamicists. they wanted to do research. it was a place of strength for decades.
and it is very hard to switch tracks entirely and to go into this kind of substantial project management. so that is a quick story that ed told me. he did not tell me any stories about being fired at headquarters or anything like that but that he had been shipped down here specifically. walt: other questions? >> these days at langley and throughout the agency, we have so many competing priorities that we are always trying to succeed in multiple arenas and multiple large projects. was that the case during the viking days, or was truly the entire center and large chunks of the agency pushing towards the success of this one mission? erik: i will let you answer a question, and then maybe i will. bill: all right. [laughter] there has always been these competing priorities. that has always been the case.
even in the apollo era, reaching the moon was an overarching objective of nasa. there were other activities that were under way, and they had their priorities, as well. there is a research program that is underway. there's a planetary program underway. there is lifting body research. there is all kinds of things taking place, all of them -- there is a good thing and a bad thing about that. if you have a laser focus on one objective, at some level that is good because everyone is try to -- trying to accomplish the same goal. the downside of that is if you are successful, then what, and i think nasa felt a little bit of that at the end of the apollo era. but the priorities of other missions are also very real, and we cannot minimize those, even
though we went through a 30-year period of the space shuttle. that was the dominant thing that the public about when they thought about nasa. there are other things that are taking place that were maybe not as visible but just as significant. do you want to change that answer? erik: there is one thing during the viking program, engine research, very important to making jet aircraft, commercial jet aircraft more acceptable. there had been a lot of resistance outside of the original handful of cities because they were so much louder, apparently louder than propeller driven aircraft, and that was a relatively deal that was related to viking. walt: i would take that as an opportunity for a plug. for the nasa history program.
the book that eric mentioned. it's a repayment. it's colorful. the original paper one, if you find it in the langley library coverede clothbound book. on mars. you can find this an electronic format on the nasa website. -- in electronic format on the nasa website. which brings me around to the nasa website, as well, so feel free to download and read. lots of depth about the things, and i think as erik mentioned, there was a lot about the langley element of this. and then the centaur. part of the program you have not talked about with viking. again, taking privilege of being moderator, a question that addresses all three of you, and that is from and historians --
and historians prospective an historian perspective, what you have told is unique, what lessons might you draw from that for ongoing policy on mars explosion or any other nasa program, for example? we will start with roger here, sort of the larger planetary question. roger: i believe that a lot of the public, anyway, is driven by the sense that they want to know whether or not there is life beyond this planet, and that may be one of the greatest questions of humankind throughout the ages. are we alone in the universe? and for the first time, we had the potential of coming close to answering the question, and viking, of course, had a very public role in trying to determine whether or not there was some biological material that they might encounter on the red planet.
that was a major part of the mission. not the only part, by any means, and i am sure there were people associated who would say, wow, we were doing all of this other stuff. that is true. from the public perspective, i think the life story is important. it was played up by celebrity scientists, like carl sagan, who thought they were going to find something and they ballyhooed about it on a regular basis like on "johnny carson" at night, and the evidence of that, or the lack of any evidence to support that possibility of life on mars i think did tend to dampen people's spirits on some of these things. there were debates within the science community beforehand. there is famous exchanges between sagan and bruce murray at jpl.
sagan is accused of overselling this as the impetus for the mars mission. and if we do not return results that are what the public wants to hear, they will not be interested in continuing, and at some level, he may have been correct. not entirely, but at some level. anybody else want to add? glenn: i think i will approach this as government function. there was no doubt when people started thinking about what a mission to mars might look like, that it should contain a detection experiment to see if there was life there. that was a colossal experiment, a colossal question, something that everybody at the time needed to be addressed.
if you are going to mars, surely there is a way to add that experiment to it. and then as the decade went on, and the spacecraft was being pieced together, and costs were an issue as it was ramped up, and they questioned whether or not that was the most important question. putting a lander on mars to accomplish it, and it turned out in the long history of things, and unexpected answer, that was the right thing to do. could be going to planets and collecting data, which is what the lander did an orbiter. most of the missions, that was improving the engineering model, collecting data on what sort of minerals were available there, expecting something in the future, someone who is an intern, or somebody who is working for private industry, or somebody working with a space agency that is not a pioneer like the united states has been, is going to use that data to
colonize mars or grow plants on mars or do something really unique. you know, the 1960's was a period of optimism in terms of what nasa was doing in being able to pose big questions. people were expected to ask these sorts of things. it was the right thing to do. it has sort of shifted since then. kepler is the spacecraft up there identifying all of these potential exoplanets. it has essentially picked up the mantle of the experiment of viking. it is a small program, but it is asking these fundamental questions. a lot of the data it is getting back is asking these questions. it is not directly about finding an analog to earth. it is about answering and taking an ambitious step and taking -- asking those questions. so, you know, i think that is a lesson that can be learned. the 1960's were a different time in terms of optimism.
and nasa's role within the entirety of space exploration. i wish we could get back to that iod. per roger: it is interesting you brought up kepler, because it is routinely brought up at those -- by visitors at the air and space museum, and i totally agree with glenn about how we should characterize what we are learning about exoplanets, but what they asked over and over again, have they found earthlike planets? having found planets we can colonize? having found planets that could potentially have creatures we could communicate with? that is the beginning and the end of what those people think of when they think of these things. i don't know if we need to
manage expectations more effectively or if we need to have a better education system, maybe both. it is an interesting challenge that i see as we are trying to deal with the general public to try to talk to them about these kinds of questions. >> a question about viking and the search for life on mars, in less than 24 hours at the podium, we will hear the latest chapter of that story, so we can come back tomorrow. walt: absolutely. an advertisement. sir? >> by late 2030, i wonder what will be the biggest challenges to overcome?
walt: so from the historian perspective, humans to mars? erik: i have already said this in print, so i am already in trouble. is it feasible? yes. are we going to have the political will to spend that much money? i don't see it. so that is my answer. it could be done, but i do not think it will be done. roger: i can speak, and i have done this a number of times. the core question seems to be in terms of humans to mars, believe me, i would love to see that happen. it is a large program, and it would be a very large and expensive and time-consuming program. it would only be able to be accomplished with a major commitment, probably a multinational commitment, but at
the very least a major, probably $1 trillion commitment, to do it. if we want to use history as a model, you know, we decided to send humans to the moon in the 1960's for a very specific political -- to respond to a very specific political crisis, and that was the threat of the soviet union. a way to demonstrate our capabilities, this larger socioeconomic, political, in some cases military confrontation. the question i always have to ask is if it was that kind of confrontation that triggered the decision-making process to go to the moon, what would be that trigger mechanism in which the public, the congress, the president, and probably the leadership of other nations, as well all come together and say the answer to that crisis is sending human expedition to mars.
i cannot think of one. if you can, i am all ears. but i think it is a real challenge in terms of a mission. now, if we can find a way to do it within the funding profile of nasa, everyone will cheer, but i have not seen that anywhere. walt: even in the 1960's, and those of us who went through the 1960's recognize this, the support for the apollo program was not wide spread. the opposition emerged soon afterwards. it was already on the fast track. the money was pumping into nasa. it was moving ahead. the kennedy assassination had a
certain galvanizing effect. things the soviet union doing it was having a galvanizing effect. mid 60's. but there was widespread opposition to the program. the overall support for the apollo program was not that strong, not much above 50%. even in those circumstances. erik: there is a legend that the apollo program was flush with money, but their budget was actually cut every year from fiscal 1965 on. roger: and there was an attack every year in congress, and it was about reducing money spent on apollo. walt: more questions? sir? >> how langley got the viking program as opposed to jpl, only focused on aeronautics.
i am wondering about it being successful, whether or not? planetary wise. and jpl. i am wondering what the path was. many more missions regarding to viking planetary wise? why did it come about? walt: i think, erik, that is a question for you. erik: i thought i was going to get that question. the answer in the short term was yes, of course. viking was successful, and in the longer term, no, and what i cannot tell you is why the no comes about. my guess is that it happens every few years with mission reviews and they decided they do not have the funds to continue with the missions at langley, so
i think the next fully orbital mission langley has is calypso in the late 1990's, i think. and other than that, it provides instruments. it does research. it is a research center, after all, but, yes, that effort to shove langley into the space business did not last very long. walt: this hints back to the issue i was talking about. it is about the large team effort involved with viking. you have got multiple centers working on programs, a very complex situation. you have got martin marietta, and then you have got headquarters and their perspective.
gentlemen, i would like to ask each of you, if you have an opinion on what did we learn from the viking experience about what the proper orientation is of nasa in terms of managing complex programs across multiple centers? is there a lesson we can draw from viking? are the things we should have learned not to do? are there things we learned we should not do? should headquarters shut up more often? erik: i keep getting in more trouble. when i arrived here as the contract historian i am , forgetting his said this. somebody commented to me, one of the engineers here, that nasa works best when headquarters pretends to manage the centers, and the centers pretends to be managed, with the emphasis on the pretend. [laughter] so i am not the only one who thinks that the headquarters should stay out of engineering.
a general lesson though it's hard to draw from viking, because jpl built the orbiters in-house, like they did for its previous spacecraft, and the contract with martin marietta in denver, without, to my knowledge, sending the hundreds of people that jpl had to send to hughes over surveyor. but that leaves ambiguity, because jpl is doing it in house, which we still do today, and there is a contract management model which is quite not the type of deal that surveyor had at its beginning. it is kind of the all falling -- all in of the contractor's underpants that surveyor became. so i think they achieved some sort of a balance with a good
project team between the three, which has happened in other times. it seems to be very effective. it also seems very hard to do. not everyone succeeds at it. walt: glenn? glenn: working on viking, they are very proud of the contributions they have made. lockheed martin, previously martin marietta, is celebrating this week of the viking landing. very similar to what is happening at langley with the role they played in getting the equipment to work. it was fundamental as what nasa had done in terms of developing specifications and putting the program in order. to answer your question, i do not know what we could say about this contractor network. to some degree, viking is a very underexplored historical topic. there are a few wonderful books out there.
you know, langley has not stood up the history program that would allow them to have a person sitting up here, answering those questions about the role of the center. one man is doing a wonderful job as a history point of contact, but there is no time to explore what is a very complicated question which is the relationship between the organizations and how things develop from the apollo era to the viking era. >> with that, that does it for time. we thank you all very much. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> we explore the literary life in history of denver, colorado.
on book tv, we visit the cornerstone of literary culture of denver. >> if you look at tattered cover and you see in the store green carpets and brass fixtures and dark wood, the original bars and overs -- barnes & noble's superstores were modeled after the straight >> hunter s thompson's son in his book stories i tell myself. >> he was born in 1936. when he was growing up, he didn't grow up in an era when fathers were typically heavily involved with raising the kids. that was part of it. and second, writing was always the most important thing. family was secondary, for sure. >> this weekend as part of the denver onies tour, american history tv. on the rocky flats
nuclear sites transition into a natural -- national wildlife refuge. >> we do not elk that use this area, they use the drainages for camping -- calving. coyotes, beer and occasionally there is a bear in this area. and and kimberly field, author of the book the denver mint, 100 years of gangsters, gold, and ghosts, talks about how the mint changed the city. cracks in the 1880's, denver itself have gotten rich from mining. and it wanted to become the queen city of the planes. the center of commerce, the leader in the western united states. and the city fathers at that point decided that a mint they could be proud of was going to be part of that process. tour the c-span cities
noon eastern and sunday afternoon at 2:00 in american history tv on c-span3, working with cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. >> on labor day, watch american history tv's coverage of the national park service centennial. we rely from robertson house, the robert e. lee memorial. most visited a store, the park system. here's a preview. >> 100 years ago on august 20 5, 1916, president woodrow wilson signed a law that created the national park system. the washington monument and the national mall is part of that system. this was a uniquely american idea. the concept that the nation's most beautiful lands don't belong to a ruling class, but to the american people. it is their right to visit these spaces and enjoy them. such as the grand canyon, yellowstone, the statue of liberty. they have become familiar to us, and many are known around the world.
they are nations crown jewels. a todent obama, on yosemite's waterfalls told a crowd it's almost like the spirit of america itself is right here. today, there are 84 million acres in the system, and 400 10 sites, including 59 national parks, 128 historical parks, 25 battlefields, and 10 national seashores. asher, some 300 million people visited the national park locations. when people think of national parks, they usually think of grand natural spaces like the everglades. along the way, the national park service took up a second mission of telling the american story. the lincoln memorial, the washington monument, and even residents parked, which surrounds the white house, are all part of the national park service narrative. literallyon was carved into the stone of mount rushmore by its sculptor, who wrote the purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding expansion, preservation, and unification of the united states.
but the american story is cap located. in the 21st century, the national park service is taking the lead in trying to reconcile dueling storylines in many historic sites across the country. onington house, which sits the hill above president john f. kennedy's gravesite at darlington national cemetery is an example of that effort. it's the park system's most visited historic home. today, visitors darlington house learn the several storylines that connect to this mansion, from george washington in the little missionary war -- in the revolutionary war. and they learn about the enslaved people who lived on the estate and whose legacies live on in there to send. watch the entire program at 11:00 p.m. eastern. everyan history tv, weekend and too. only on c-span3. the c-span radio app makes it
easy to follow the 2016 election, wherever you are. it's free to download from the apple app store google play. in audio coverage and up-to-the-minute schedule information for c-span radio and c-span television. plus, -- podcast times. stay up-to-date on all the election coverage. c-span's radio app means you always have c-span on the go. >> the 1600 acre battlefield is about 45 miles northwest of u.s. capitol. the national park service opportunity includes the best -- property includes the best damage farm built in the 1790's by family of french caribbean immigrants who owned about 90 slaves. c-span met joy beasley to learn how remnants of the 200 year old slave quarters were discovered in 2003. and they were partially excavated in the summer of 2010.