This July 20 marks the 45th anniversary of the first successful landing of Mars, by NASA’s Viking 1 mission, which in 1976 took the first images on the planet’s surface.
The Viking 1 space probe was one of the two Mars exploration probes belonging to NASA’s Viking program, composed of an orbital probe called Viking Orbiter I and a landing probe called Viking Lander I. It took ten months to reach its destination .
Both Viking probes were dedicated to characterizing the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and conducted field trials to determine the possibility of life on the red planet.
These measurements are still being analyzed and interpreted, according to NASA. Their data already suggested that in the beginning, Mars was very different from what it is today.
Viking 1 made the first successful entry, descent, and landing on Mars. Derivations of its thermal protection system and the parachute have been used in many US landing missions on Mars.
As for the mission’s orbiter, the spacecraft’s instruments consisted of two vidicon cameras (VIS) for imaging, an infrared spectrometer for detecting water vapor (MAWD), and infrared radiometers for thermal mapping (IRTM). Its operations were terminated on August 17, 1980, after 1,485
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