NASA’s Viking mission is the first to land a spacecraft successfully on Mars. It’s been 40 years and within that time the Curiosity Rover was sent up there for exploration to enable us to view the planet closely. Most of the recovered data is on microfilm rolls, and they are not widely used nor readily available to the public. To make the Viking mission data accessible, a NASA team is trying to digitize it just the same way that Apollo 11’s data was. In the early 2000s, the task was fired up by David Williams, who is a planetary curation scientist working at the NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive, after he received a call.
In a bid to investigate the presence of life on Mars, an American University professor of pharmacology at the Caribbean School of Medicine, Joseph Miller requested for the Viking mission data. In a statement after Williams got the data, he said that he realized the information was all that is left of an incredible experiment. He also noted that any damage to the microfilm would mean a loss of the information forever, so he was careful not even to lend it to anyone due to the importance of the information.
Preparations are being made to launch a new rover in 2020, and the Curiosity Rover continually sends data from the Red Planet, but the Viking data could still be very useful. Millers 2001 findings which made him conclude that the soil on Mars could have supported life is different from the results obtained by the first scientists evaluating the Viking biological data.
SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) is an equipment used by the Curiosity Rover to confirm the presence of organic compounds based on the Viking records. The primary aim of digitizing data is to make the valuable information readily available by keeping up with current advancement in technology to prevent the data from going obsolete.