"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Utopia on Mars
The Viking 2 spacecraft was launched on the Road to Utopia in September of 1975 (30 years after Bing, Dotty, and Bob). In August of 1976, after making the second successful Martian landing, Viking 2’s lander began recording data used to produce this exquisitely detailed image of the Martian surface in the area of Utopia Planitia (the Plain of Utopia). Visible at the lower right are the protective shroud that covered the lander’s soil collector head, ejected after the descent, along with one of the lander’s dust covered footpads. Seen near the center are shallow trenches dug by the sampler arm. Mars looks red because its surface is covered with reddish iron oxide dust (rust). This dust, suspended in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, also filters the sunlight causing surface views to take on a reddish tinge.
Image credit: The Viking Project, M. Dale-Bannister WU StL, NASA