Monday, September 3, 2007

September 3, 1976: Viking II Lands On Mars

After a journey from Earth lasting almost a year, NASA's Viking II lander separated from the orbiter and reached the surface of Mars in an area called Utopia Planetia. Along with the Viking I lander, which had reached another part of the Martian surface on July 20, 1976, the Viking II lander carried out the closest examination of the "Red Planet" before the Martian rovers that landed in 2004. Although the Viking landers could not move about, they carried high-resolution cameras that transmitted detailed pictures to Earth. A robotic arm collected soil samples, which the lander analyzed for signs of life without finding any. The Viking II lander stopped transmitting on April 11, 1980.

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