Exploring the Solar System

Exploring Mars

What were the first spacecraft to land safely on Mars?

In 1976, two spacecraft sent by the United States arrived at Mars. Viking 1 arrived on June 19, and Viking 2 arrived on August 7. Each spacecraft had an orbiter and a lander. The Viking 1 lander touched down on Mars in the Chryse Planitia (Golden Plane) on July 20, followed by the Viking 2 lander in the Utopia Planitia (Utopian Plane) on September 3. The orbiters sent back detailed pictures, radiation measurements, and weather reports of the entire Martian surface; and the landers obtained the first images ever taken from the surface of another planet.


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