|The Department Graduate Students Ground-Based Research|
The Pioneers |
Pioneer Venus |
Voyagers 1 & 2 |
Mars Observer |
Lunar Prospector | IMAGE
I was a Principal Investigator on the lander camera team. The first landing of Viking 1 was early in the morning, about seven o’clock. This was prime time for the morning shows. Our team was divided into two parts; uplink, which was choosing the pictures, laying out the sequences, getting the computer programs written so we could get the pictures we need; and then the downlink guys. I was head of uplink.
We were very busy, as you might imagine. It took in those days two weeks to develop the load to go up to the spacecraft. So we had to pre-program for two weeks, without even knowing what the surface was going to look like, the sequences. I had to see those pictures immediately to begin to modify for two weeks ahead.
So I was eagerly waiting to in my area to get these first pictures, and Tim Mutch came in and he said, “Hey, MBC wants somebody for the Today Show, and I want you to do it.”
I said, “I’ve got plenty to do.”
He said, “Come on, this is important.”
So I had to go over to that TV place. We had successfully landed; we knew we were down. The first thing that happened was our number two camera was supposed to come up—it was a slow-scan camera. Nothing like what you see now where the pictures just come down, boom, boom, boom. It was a facsimile camera, so it did one scan at a time in the vertical and slowly it would rotate.
My God, this panorama began to come in front of me, and there were rocks all over the place, and I didn’t know what to say. I was just dumbfounded by the beauty. The camera guy kept saying, “Dr. Binder, say something!” and I would say something and I would look at these pictures. That was just exciting—not that I was on TV but that first picture from the surface of Mars was just unbelievable. Those were the good old days.
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