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Viking 40th Anniversary Celebrates First Landing On Mars, What Do We Know So Far?

Jul 21, 2016 01:34 AM EDT
First Color Pictures Of Mars Rover Released
The scientific community is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Viking's arrival on Mars, the first to land on the red planet.
(Photo : NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/ Cornell University via Getty Images)

Forty years ago, Viking landed on Mars, a monumental event that paved the way for modern technologies to conquer and traverse the red planet as well. But 40 years after, what do people learned about Mars so far?

In 1976, twin Viking orbiter and lander arrived on Mars. The mission was able to produce the surface map that helped scientist conclude that water once flow on Mars. Viking 1 lander arrived on July 20, 1976 while Viking 2 followed shortly six weeks after, according to Forbes. The mission provided the initial and vital Martian data that is integral in the research of the planet until 1990s.

Today's understanding of Mars couldn't be possible without the help of all landers, rovers and orbiters that successfully roamed, landed and orbited the red planet. Today, there are a lot of data pertaining to the composition and environmental behavior of Mars. Some vital findings include that there could be flowing water on Mars and the Martian past has Earth-like attributes that may have catered to ancient life. But 40 years after the first man-made machine arrived on Mars, people are still asking, is there life on Mars?

Within 24 hours of the Viking's arrival on the red plane, the Earth had seen the first colored image of the Martian surface; it was the image of Chryse Planitia. And it is a landscape that the Earth has never seen before. The landers also performed experiments involving carbon dioxide to tell if life had existed on the planet but to no avail. This is what various missions to Mars also aims to achieve 40 years after Viking 1 and 2 landed on Mars.

This proves that 40 years after, Mars is still a mystery to scientists since there are no technologies yet that can tell, for certain, that the ancient conditions on Mars were able to harbor life.

The fanfare in searching for extraterrestrial life also originated from a historic image taken by the mission. Viking 1 took the photo in 1976 at the Cydonia region showing what seems to be a distorted, probably an extraterrestrial's face buried shallowly on the Martian soil. The image is now known as the "The Face on Mars." And after 40 years, there are people who still believe that it is a legit evidence of extraterrestrial life, while a lot of people are convinced that it is an optical illusion that misguided the public for years.

But the Space Exploration Day celebration aims to commemorate the success of the first landers that arrived on Mars and to reflect on the future missions that will follow the footsteps of Viking 1 and 2. Viking 1 stayed on the planet for 2,307 days, a record that has since then been broken, according to TechTimes.

It looks like NASA is stepping up with the challenge as their journey to Mars is on the works with the latest unmanned mission to the red planet set to launch in 2018.


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