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July 18, 2016 - The Surface of Mars, at Last

The Surface of Mars, at Last  The first robotic mission to successfully land on Mars, Viking 1 captured this view of a rocky slope in the Chryse Planitia region a month after its historic landing, which occurred forty years ago this week. The identical Vikings 1 and 2, both consisting of a nuclear-powered lander and a solar-powered orbiter, launched in August and September 1975, respectively. The landers sampled the Martian soil in an attempt to identify any evidence of life. But although some substantial gas release was observed in samples dug from the surface by Viking 1’s robotic arm, whether the cause was biological in nature or not remains inconclusive to this day. The Viking craft operated long past their original ninety-day missions, with the last signal from the Viking 1 lander arriving in 1982.

Image credit: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

July 18-24, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 18

1921: John Glenn born
1966:
Gemini X launched
1980: India becomes seventh nation to launch its own satellite

Moon phase Tuesday 19

Full Moon 6:57 PM ET

1846: Edward Pickering born
1967: Explorer 35 launched
1985: NASA selects Christa McAuliffe as first private citizen to travel in space

Moon phase Wednesday 20

1969: Apollo 11 astronauts become first humans walk on Moon
1976: Viking 1 lands on Mars
1999: Liberty Bell 7 capsule recovered from Atlantic Ocean after 38 years

Moon phase Thursday 21

1961: Liberty Bell 7 suborbital flight; capsule sinks in Atlantic Ocean
1969: Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle lifts off from Moon

Moon phase Friday 22

1784: Friedrich Bessel born
1994: Last fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts Jupiter

Moon phase Saturday 23

Neptune 1.1° south of Moon

1972: Landsat 1 launched
1999: STS-93 Columbia launched, deploys Chandra X-Ray Observatory

Moon phase Sunday 24

1950: First rocket launched from Cape Canaveral
1969: Apollo 11 crew returns to Earth
1975: Apollo-Soyuz crew returns to Earth, last US splashdown
2009: Canaries Great Telescope dedicated

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.