NASA's Viking Project managed to gain a foothold in the history of Mars exploration by becoming the first US mission that landed on the red planet. The ships that were launched within this program managed to safely reach the Martian surface and return images to Earth.
For the Viking Program for the exploration of Mars, two identical spacecraft were built, the Viking 1 and Viking 2, each consisting of a landing module and an orbiter. Both ships were launched into space and entered the orbit of the red planet.
However, once in the Martian orbit, the landing modules separated from the set and descended to the surface in different places. The Viking 1, which was launched on August 20, 1975, touched down on the western slope of the Chryse Planitia (the Golden Plains), while the Viking 2 landing module, launched on September 9, 1975, It was established in the Utopia Planitia.
In addition to taking photographs and collecting other scientific data on the surface for the exploration of Mars, the two landing modules conducted three biological experiments designed to look for possible signs of life. With these investigations, an unexpected and enigmatic chemical activity was discovered in the Martian soil, although it was not conclusive since there was no clear evidence of the presence of microorganisms on the surface near the landing areas.
Long live for Viking 1 and 2
The Viking mission was raised to continue for 90 days after landing. However, the ships survived a few years longer than expected when they were designed. The Viking 1 orbiter was running four years, concluding its mission on August 7, 1980, while the Viking 2 orbiter was active until July 25, 1978.
Due to the variations in available sunlight, both probes were powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators, that is, devices that generate electricity from the heat released by the natural decomposition of plutonium. That energy source allowed long-term scientific research to be carried out that would not otherwise have been possible.
Viking 1 made its last transmission to Earth on November 11, 1982. The latest data from the Viking 2 landing module arrived on Earth on April 11, 1980.
|◄ Previous||Next ►|
|First attempts, the Mariner program||Mars Global Surveyor, NASA success|