Thrust from a Titan 3/Centaur rocket launched NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft on a 505-million-mile journey to Mars on Aug. 20, 1975. Viking 2 followed three weeks later.

Each mission included both an orbiter and a lander, and all four components accomplished successes. On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 lander returned the first photograph taken on the surface of Mars. That lander in a region called Chryse Planitia operated until Nov. 13, 1982. The Viking 2 lander operated in the Utopia Planitia region from Sept. 3, 1976 to April 11, 1980. The orbiters sent home images of the entire planet at resolutions of 300 meters (984 feet) or less per pixel.

More information on Viking at: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/programmissions/missions/past/viking/

  • This color image of the Martian surface in the Chryse area was taken by Viking Lander 1, looking southwest, about 15 minutes before sunset on the evening of August 21.

    This color image of the Martian surface in the Chryse area was taken by Viking Lander 1, looking southwest, about 15 minutes before sunset on the evening of August 21. The sun is at an elevation angle of 3 or 4 degrees above the horizon and about 50 degrees clockwise from the right edge of the frame. Local topographic features are accentuated by...

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  • This is the first photograph ever taken on the surface of the planet Mars.

    This is the first photograph ever taken on the surface of the planet Mars. It was obtained by Viking 1 just minutes after the spacecraft landed successfully early today. The center of the image is about 1.4 meters (five feet) from Viking Lander camera #2. We see both rocks and finely granulated material--sand or dust. Many of the small...

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