July 20 marked the 40th anniversary of NASA’s historic first Mars landing.
It was 40 ago, on July 20, 1976, that NASA's Viking 1 lander touched down on Mars, becoming the first U.S. spacecraft to successfully land on the planet. On that day, the 1,270-pound vehicle separated from its orbiter and began to descend through the Martian atmosphere traveling at around 500 mph. Its speed was slowed by the deployment of a parachute and the firing of three main retrorocket engines. The vehicle arrived safely at its landing site—a rock-strewn plain in the planet’s northern equatorial region—in the afternoon, Mars local time. The Viking 1 lander carried a number of science instruments to examine the composition of Mars’ atmosphere and surface, including a robotic arm that could scoop up soil samples. During its more than six years in operation, scientists collected hundreds of high-resolution images and important data that would pave the way for future Mars missions. Explore the images to learn more.
Please give credit for this item to: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Cover image courtesy of NASA/JPL Viking 1 launch image courtesy of NASA Viking 1 orbiter model image courtesy of NASA Viking 1 lander model image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona Mars surface image courtesy of NASA/JPL Mars panorama image courtesy of NASA/JPL
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