The music for this piece was completed on the twentieth anniversary of the first successful landing of a craft from Earth on the planet Mars on July 20, 1976. For many people, the Viking missions affirmed a sense that humankind was about to commence an extraordinarily significant period of historical development. The title of the work, Ares Vallis ("Mars Valley"), refers to an ancient floodplain on Mars that on July 4, 1997 became the landing site for the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. Although the pace of exploration has turned out to be much slower than many of us had hoped, the dream remains.

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