On this date last year, I wrote about the first lunar landing and moon walk from 1969.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Plant US Flag on the Moon

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin Plant US Flag on the Moon

There was another significant event in the United States Space program that occurred on the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Viking 1 lander, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, became the first spacecraft to successfully land on the surface of Mars on July 20, 1976.

viking_lander_model

Viking 1 was launched on August 20, 1975, and arrived at Mars on June 19, 1976. The first month of its orbit was devoted to imaging the surface to find appropriate landing sites. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander separated from the orbiter, touched down on the Chryse Planitia region of Mars, and sent back the first close-up photographs of the rust-colored Martian surface.

Chryse_Planitia

In September 1976, Viking 2–launched only three weeks after Viking 1–entered into orbit around Mars, where it assisted Viking 1 in imaging the surface and also sent down a lander. During the dual Viking missions, the two orbiters imaged the entire surface of Mars at a resolution of 150 to 300 meters, and the two landers sent back more than 1,400 images of the planet’s surface.

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One response

  1. Birgit says:

    You know I vaguely recall this mission in 1976 and I would have been 12. I remember the moon landing more but not for the reason of the moon landing but that my brother turned the station to the moon landing and begged me that it was a time in history to watch. I didn’t care I wanted to watch Bugs Bunny-lol