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On This Day



On This Day… A Viking That Reached Mars

Written by: George Chittenden : 31 May 2019

It was on this day, 3rd Sept, back in 1976 when NASA's Viking 2 landed on the surface of Mars and began taking images as she started investigating for signs of life. Viking 2, like her predecessor Viking 1 consisted of a lander and an orbiter designed to take high-resolution images and study the Martian surface and atmosphere. The lander really benefited from the data that was being sent back to Earth from the orbiter, as it allowed controllers to navigate the lander to a safe landing site.

An image of the martian surface taken by Viking 2

An image of the martian surface taken by Viking 2

The images that Viking 2 captured of the Martian surface are fantastic. The lander operated on the surface of the red planet for 1316 days and was finally turned off on April 11th, 1980 when her batteries failed. The orbiter was in operation until July 25th, 1978 and returned almost 16,000 images during her 706 orbits around Mars. Neither found traces of life, but they did find all the elements that are essential to life on Earth such as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus.

Viking 2

Viking 2

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