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Thirty eight years ago today, NASA’s Viking 1 lander set down on the plains of Mars, and forever changed our view of the Red Planet. For the first time we knew what its surface looked like – dust dunes scattered across a seemingly-endless desert, with rocks, boulders and stones everywhere, all beneath a huge, cathedral dome of a sky, all painted countless shades of red, pink and brown, with hints of yellow, black and gold here and there. Since then our knowledge of Mars has grown at an incredible rate, and the landscapes of Mars are as familiar to us as the landscapes of Earth.

By now there should have been people on Mars, there really should. Today we should have been watching a live broadcast from the surface of Mars, from a team of astronauts who had travelled cross country from their base to the landing site of Viking 1 where, in secret, they had cleaned Viking 1 of all the dust that had accumulated on it since 1976, leaving it as bright and white and beautiful as it was on Landing Day. Then, standing beside it, they would have paid a glowing tribute to the lander, the mission, and the incredible team of men and women who had made it happen. Take a moment to imagine that…

Today there are no astronauts on Mars, no wheel tracks leading from a Mars Base 1 to Viking 1’s landing site in Chryse Planitia. There will be no tribute paid to Viking 1 from the surface of Mars –

Actually, there will, kind of, because I have taken the latest batch of black and white raw images sent back by Oppy from high up on the rim of Endeavour and turned them into a colourised panorama, as my own personal tribute to the Viking mission and its teams. Click on it to enlarge it. I hope you like it.

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P.S. here are some more of my latest images…

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