Happy 40th anniversary Viking 1!!!
Exactly 40 years ago - July 20, 1976 - Viking 1 was the first U.S. mission to land on Mars. His space sister, Viking 2, landed on the red planet 45 days after!
Launched August 20, 1975, Viking 1 spent over 6 years taking pictures and studying the soil of Mars at its landing site, an ancient crater named Chryse Planitia. The experiment to look for Martian microbes turned up nothing definitive, though some researchers continue to argue otherwise
Viking 1 wasn't the first mission that successfully landed on the Red Planet. Mars 3
, a Soviet probe, landed on Mars in 1971, though its only transmission — a partial, garbled image — lasted just 20 seconds.
Today, seven probes call Mars their home and more are to come. A European-led orbiter and lander, ExoMars
, is on its way, and NASA has two missions lined up: the Insight lander
, whose launch was recently delayed to 2018, and the Mars 2020 rover
, which will pick up where the Vikings left off and search for Martian life.