A History of NASA’s Viking Project

45 years ago today, Viking 1 successfully landed on Mars. NASA‘s Viking Project was the first U.S. mission to safely land a spacecraft on the surface of Mars and return images of the surface.

Besides taking photographs and collecting other science data on the Martian surface, the two landers conducted three biology experiments designed to look for possible signs of life. These experiments discovered unexpected and enigmatic chemical activity in the Martian soil, but provided no clear evidence for the presence of living microorganisms in soil near the landing sites. According to scientists, Mars is self-sterilizing. They believe the combination of solar ultraviolet radiation that saturates the surface, the extreme dryness of the soil and the oxidizing nature of the soil chemistry prevent the formation of living organisms in the Martian soil..

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