Viking 1

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• Launch date:  20 August 1975

• Orbital insertion:  20 July 1976

• End of mission: 13 November 1982

• Agency: NASA

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The first spacecraft to successfully land on Mars, Viking 1 was part of a two-part mission to investigate the Red Planet and search for signs of life. Viking 1 consisted of both an orbiter and a lander designed to take high-resolution images, and study the Martian surface and atmosphere.

Operating on Mars’ Chryse Planitia for more than six years, Viking 1 performed the first Martian soil sample using its robotic arm and a special biological laboratory. While it found no traces of life, Viking 1 did help better characterize Mars as a cold planet with volcanic soil, a thin, dry carbon dioxide atmosphere and strking evidence for ancient river beds and vast flooding.