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Published on Jul 20, 2010
On July 20, 1976, the Viking 1 spacecraft landed on Mars to end a 500 million-mile journey. About 2 a.m. Eastern, the lander separated from the orbiter and, protected by a heat-shielding aeroshell, made its hazardous descent through the thin Martian atmosphere at nearly 10,000 miles per hour. Immediately after touchdown, the lander's camera took the first picture ever shot from the surface of Mars and relayed the historic image back to Earth. Two months later, on Sept. 3, 1976, Viking 2 settled on Martian soil. In the following years, the two Viking spacecraft conducted experiments studying atmospheric and soil composition, meteorology and seismology and providing a catalog of more than 50,000 images of Mars from orbit and planet's surface. ftp://ftp.hq.nasa.gov/pub/pao/tv-advisory/nasa-tv.txt