Two Viking Landers reached Mars in the summer of 1976 carrying identical biology experiments designed to search for the presence of Martian organisms by looking for metabolic products. Known as the Viking Lander Biology Instrument (VLBI), the landers had three distinct instruments (pyrolytic release (PR), labeled release (LR), and gas exchange (GEX)) that incubated samples of the Martian surface under a number of different environmental conditions to determine if they might contain traces of biological matter. The VLBI provided no clear evidence for the presence of living microorganisms in soil near the landing sites.
The VLBI was manufactured by the TRW Systems Group under subcontract to the Martin Marietta Corp (now Lockheed Martin), the prime contractor for the Viking Lander. This object, serial number 103, was mounted on the Viking primary test article for several tests prior to the mission. The artifact was transferred to NASM by NASA in 1992.
Transferred from NASA, Langley Research Center