Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered


Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered


The <i>Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered</i> project has an interesting story behind it, one which began with the <a href="https://www.avaneya.com">Avaneya</a>project. The Avaneya project is a grass roots collaborative initiative to produce a libre, DRM free, cerebral, science fiction game primarily targeting, albeit not exclusively limited to, users of the <a href="https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-users-never-heard-of-gnu.html">GNU operating system</a>.

For our purposes here, the game itself is not important, only that it takes place in the not too distant future on Mars, predominantly in a specific region known as <i><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arcadia_planitia">Arcadia Planitia</a></i>. This is a region approximately mid-latitude in the Red Planet's northern hemisphere.

While designing Avaneya, we realized just how important getting the game experience right was. We needed to replicate the visual environmental conditions of the Martian environment as carefully as possible. We can do much better than simply making it red, and users appreciate an earnest effort at a sincere visual experience. As such, our artists require access to large sets of high resolution reference images for study. The closest relevant photographs available at present were taken in a neighbouring region near <i>Arcadia Planitia</i> called <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utopia_Planitia">Utopia Planitia</a> during the late 1970s by NASA's Viking mission to Mars. This region is very similar to <i>Arcadia Planitia</i> in appearance.

In 1976 NASA successfully placed two spacecraft into Martian orbit after many years of <a href="http://www.marsnews.com/missions/allmissions.html">failed</a> American and Russian attempts. These initial failures became unofficially attributed to the so called "Mars Curse", owing to their high number. The Viking orbiters both carried their own landers which successfully landed, one of which in the aforementioned <i>Utopia Planitia</i> region.

The landers were capable of capturing high resolution photographs and other data from the surface of the planet, buffering this data temporarily within internal magnetic tapes and then relaying this data back to Earth through one the orbiters when in position or sometimes directly over a UHF uplink whenever possible. The landers provided us with large amounts of data without any issues for four years before finally succumbing to a battery failure on one and a software update bug which shutdown the communication antenna on the other.

An <a href="http://pds-imaging.jpl.nasa.gov/volumes/viking.html">online archive</a> of all of the mission data was released into the public domain. However, due to the way this data was encoded and archived with the technology of the 1970s, it is unfortunately virtually impossible for the layman to find any recognizably photographic data in the archive. To find a complete colour photograph is a non-trivial exercise.

Needing the archive for our own creative purposes, yet willing to share our solution with the world in answer to an outcry of public interest, we set out to author a digital forensic archaeological software to recover whatever we could recover of the landers' photographic mission data in a simple and easy to use manner. This software became known as the <i>Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered</i>.

Date Created



Avaneya Project Crew

Instructional Method

A more detailed explanation of the data rescue methods used can be found in the the chapter <i>Viking Lander Remastered</i> in our project bible, the <i>Avaneya Project Crew Handbook</i> available on our <a href="https://www.avaneya.com>website</a>.


Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered

Research Area(s)

Astronomy, Areology

Name of Organization Holding Data

<a href="http://www.cartesiantheatre.com">Cartesian Theatre</a> via the <a href="https://www.avaneya.com>Avaneya</a> project.

About the Original Item

Date Added
April 28, 2013
Data Rescue Projects
Item Type
DARI Metadata Schema V.0.9.1
“Avaneya: Viking Lander Remastered,” Data-at-Risk & Rescue Inventory, accessed February 28, 2015, http://www.ibiblio.org/data-at-risk/items/show/96.
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