It’s a labor of love. I’ve been a space-program enthusiast since I was a kid in the 1960s; the earliest missions that I recall were the Gemini flights. I followed the Apollo program rabidly. I was in high school during the Viking '75 missions. For a hobby I was a model-maker back then, and began a 1/20th scale Viking lander from scratch. I never got very far before college intervened. I still have the parts of that Viking model. In the subsequent decades I always smiled whenever I came across a Viking reference. About six years ago a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC allowed me to see the Viking Proof Test Capsule (PTC) lander on display. That re-kindled my Viking passion in a big way.
In the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to conduct detailed personal examinations of most of the extant major Viking lander hardware (capturing over 3,000 detailed photographs and ~1,000 measurements). This includes the Proof Test Capsule lander at the Smithsonian; the backup Flight Capsule 3 lander owned by the Viking Mars Missions Education and Preservation Project (VMMEPP) and exhibited at The Museum of Flight in Seattle; what was the Science Test Lander, now at the Virginia Air and Space Center; another test lander at the California Science Center; a spare surface sampler (subject of this forum topic) and Collector Head Shroud Unit at the NASA Langley Research Center; plus a few other hardware pieces owned by the VMMEPP and others such as a High Gain Antenna and an X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer.
I’ve collected historic photographs, drawings and diagrams, plus a set of lander body assembly blueprints.
All the photos and measurements I’ve captured are in public Google Photos albums (a few links in-line above), for those who may be interested. My SketchUp model components are also publicly available, some in the 3D Warehouse and everything in a DropBox folder. I’m in my 50’s now, and hope that my brain and eyesight holds out for a few more years to complete the lander digital re-creation project. The Viking missions were incredibly ground-breaking then (and even now in many ways), and deserve to be preserved and remembered.
Edited to add two videos that bring this back to SketchUp: a Making-Of video and an animation of the Viking lander’s legs.