Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1976

Viking 1 lands on Mars

On the seventh anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, the Viking 1 lander, an unmanned U.S. planetary probe, becomes the first spacecraft to successfully land on the surface of Mars.

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.

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.

Tags
terms:
Space

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Sitting Bull surrenders

Five years after General George A. Custer’s infamous defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Teton Sioux leader Sitting Bull surrenders to the U.S. Army, which promises amnesty for him and his followers. Sitting Bull had been a major leader in the 1876 Sioux uprising ...read more

Neil Armstrong walks on moon

At 10:56 p.m. EDT, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first ...read more

Second great flood hits Johnstown

A flash flood hits Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on this day in 1977, killing 84 people and causing millions of dollars in damages. This flood came 88 years after the infamous Great Flood of 1889 that killed more than 2,000 people in Johnstown. As they had in the first flood, the ...read more