The first-ever colour pictures of the planet Mars show a red desert scene clearly illuminated by sunlight.
CU: Picture of Mars surface with red tint changing to green, mixed with blue and then changing to natural colours.
SCU Picture Mars surface.
TRANSCRIPT: MUTCH: "Here we see a deserter scene. Again, very similar to the desert scenes here on Earth. The red, very probably through weathering (inaudible) from the ionish materials that are formed on the surface. Up on the horizon we see the sky".
REPORTER: "But it looks very light?"
MUTCH: "Yes that's a real surprise. Especially to people who have been used to Lunar pictures where the sky is dark and the differences that on the moon there's high vacuum. Here the sunlight's coming down through a cloud of dust apparently and that is scattering the light and is leading to a very bright sky."
The Viking transmitted its first black and white pictures from the surface on Tuesday (20 July), a few hours after landing. It travelled 500,000,000 miles (800,000,000 kilometres) from Earth to land on Mars just 17 second behind schedule. One of Viking's first major takes is to tel the NASA scientists whether there is, or ever has been life on Mars. Already its found traces of nitrogen - vital if life as humans know it - exists on the planet. However, although NASA scientists are excited about the discovery, they say much more data will have to be received and analysed.
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Background: The first-ever colour pictures of the planet Mars show a red desert scene clearly illuminated by sunlight. They were transmitted to Earth on Wednesday (21 July) from the unmanned United States Viking I space-craft which landed on the planet on Tuesday (20 July).
SYNOPSIS: The pictures from Mars were received in three separate colours at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centre in Pasedena, California. First, the Martian landscape was red.. the horizon about three miles from the camera. The second image was shaded green. The third colour blue was blended into the picture. Then all three were mixed to produce the first, colour picture from the Martian surface. NASA scientist Dr. Thomas Mutch explained the pictures to reporters: