Viking Project Scientist Dr. Jerry Soffen

briefs Australian Trackers on discoveries made

Don Grey and Gerry Soffen

Station Director Station Don Gray (left) with Viking Project Scientist Dr. Jerry Soffen, when the latter was visiting Honeysuckle Creek. Photo: Hamish Lindsay.


In late 1976, after the successful landings on Mars of Viking 1 and Viking 2, Viking Project Scientist Dr. Gerald Soffen (1926-2000) took the time to brief the Australian DSN space trackers on what had been discovered about Mars.

The briefing was sometime during conjunction, when communication with Mars was not possible, due to the intervening Sun – late November to mid December 1976.

Dr. Soffen was most likely speaking from his office at NASA's Langley Research Center near Hampton, Virginia.

Heard on the tape are participants at Honeysuckle Creek, Tidbinbilla, the Australian NASCOM Switch at Deakin, as well as Walt Larkin (JPL Rep to Australia) at the American Special Projects Branch of the Department of Supply.

The speakers are identified in the lists below.

John Saxon, who co-ordinated the SCAMA* call, kept his audio cassette of the proceedings. It was digitised by Colin Mackellar in April 2016.

(* SCAMA = Station Conferencing and Monitoring Arrangement – NASCOM’s voice conference system.)


audio File 1 – Side A of tape

Mp3 audio file – 32 minutes, 15.3MB.

00:00 – Start
10:59 – Walt Larkin at Special Projects Branch asks for questions
13:10 – Tom Reid, StaDir Tidbinbilla
15:25 – John Saxon DSS-44 Honeysuckle
19:17 – Walt Larkin
20:46 – Neil McVicar, Tidbinbilla
24:41 – Don Gray, StaDir DSS-44 Honeysuckle
27:14 – Walt Larkin
28:35 – Question re Phobos photo, answered by Tom Reid
30:04 – John Saxon, DSS-44.


audio File 2 – Side B of tape

Mp3 audio file – 30 minutes, 14.6MB.

00:00 – Start
01:12 – Tom Reid (?) re atmospheric Argon levels
04:11 – Questions from DSS-44 via John Saxon
08:08 – Don Gray DSS-44
10:29 – More DSS-44 questions via John Saxon
17:02 – Question from DSS-43
18:13 – ‘The Great Galactic Ghoul’
19:56 – Tom Reid StaDir DSS43
21:06 – Chris ?? DSS-43
22:31 – Request for questions from SPB or Deakin
22:48 – Kevyn Westbrook at Deakin NASCOM
23:03 – Last question from DSS-44
23:48 – Line lost
24:57 – Line restored
28:37 – Last call for questions and sign off.