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July 20, 1976, Mars, Viking 1 lander. In the article "Viking gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer" by Rushneck et al, Review of Scientific Instruments 49:817-834 (1978), section G (pp. 828-9) describes the GCMS's soil loader and pyrolyzer subassembly, which accepts a pulverized soil sample, loads it into an oven, and then seals and heats the oven. ...


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The Vega 1 balloon that entered the atmosphere of Venus on June 11, 1985, had LEDs on the anemometer: The diameter of the rotating anemometer was 25 cm. The rotor was mounted on ball bearings, and rotation was monitored by a coded disk and two sets of light-emitting diode (LED) light sources and solid-state detectors. Source: VEGA Balloon System and ...


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July 20, 1976, Mars, Viking 1 lander. (You're really not going to like this one.) The lander's cameras included an array of 12 photodiodes to measure various things. One reference even plots each photodiode's spectral sensitivity; the abstract of another paper gives enough evidence for their existence. But every photodiode also acts as a (rather inefficient) ...


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May 25, 2008, Phoenix Mars Lander. (Surely there's an earlier lunar example?) The Robotic Arm Camera took an image of the Robotic Arm scoop using its red LED (Light-Emitting Diode) lamp.


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