If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:22

Video transcript

coinciding with America's Bicentennial the Viking spacecraft would be launched on a journey to Mars in search of answers the program called for for spacecraft to to orbit the planet and to to land on the surface the Viking program was the largest most intensive planetary expedition NASA had ever embarked upon preparations for the mission demanded years of research and development and the efforts of thousands of individuals Vikings primary mission search for life on earlier missions the Mariners unveiled the barren surface of Mars extinguishing ideas of highly civilized communities living on the planet however the Mariners were above the surface not on it was there something being left unseen we could get closer and with better cameras it was time for another look on August 20th 1975 a Titan centaur launched Viking one into space on a mission to Mars about two weeks later Viking 2 followed its path to the Red Planet for almost a year the world waited of all the planets in our solar system Mars and Earth are the most similar for this reason the many scientists feel learning about Mars is absolutely necessary in order to better understand our planet Earth they call it comparative planetology the Viking mission was to them a sort of quest for the Holy Grail a mission of extreme importance the pursuit of long searched for highly speculative historical evidence while the Vikings traveled to their destination over 1 million miles away the world buzzed with excitement anticipating their arrival this was after all a new frontier about to be discovered now it was no longer just the talk of science fiction a spacecraft was about to land on another planet On June 19th 1976 Viking 1 arrived to the planet Mars and immediately began sending back photographs 134 thousand bits of information arrived every second Vikings first Lander touched down on crisi Planitia on July 20th one month later Viking 2 joined them on August 7th and its Lander targeted for Utopia Planitia landed on September 3rd for the next six years the Viking mission would take over 55,000 photographs sending to earth images of volcanoes dust storms evolve in polar regions and immense canyons evidence of lakebeds stream channels and lava planes painted a picture of a very different Mars from a time long ago the Landers performed a multitude of experiments biological and chemical day after day for over three Martian years digging retrieving and lysing and yet not one trace of organic material was found and so many who held great expectations for the discovery of life on Mars were let down left disappointed however for each question at the Viking mission answered there was a new question born questions so tantalizing that soon after we received Vikings final message in November of 1982 scientists anxiously began planning a return trip to the Red Planet hello and welcome to Kennedy Space Center NASA's home for launching humans