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Viking 2
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Viking 02
Viking 2 Mission to Mars

Goals: NASA's Viking mission to Mars was composed of two pairs of spacecraft -- Viking 1 and Viking 2 -- each consisting of an orbiter and a lander. The spacecraft were designed to take high-resolution images of the Martian surface, characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface, and search for evidence of life.

Accomplishments: Viking 2 lander set down on Utopia Planitia and operated until April 1980. The four Viking spacecraft provided numerous new insights into the nature and history of Mars, producing a vivid overall picture of a cold weathered surface with reddish volcanic soil under a thin, dry carbon dioxide atmosphere, clear evidence for the existence of ancient river beds and vast floods, and no detectable seismic activity.

Although no traces of life were found, Viking found all elements essential to life on Earth -- carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus -- were present on Mars.

Key Dates
9 Sep 1975:  Launch (18:39 UT)
7 Aug 1976:  Arrival at Mars
3 Sep 1976:  Mars Landing (22:37:50 UT)
Status: Mission Complete
Fast Facts
Viking 02 Facts Like Viking 1, Viking 2's orbiting companion spacecraft found the planned landing site was too rough and found a more suitable spot before the lander touched down.

Viking 2 landed near the polar ice cap because signs of water made it more favorable for the mission's search for Martian life.

Viking 2's self portrait (above) is one of the most famous images in U.S. exploration history.
Science & Technology Features
People Spotlight
Phil Christensen Phil Christensen
Two things have always fascinated Phil Christensen -- Mars and rocks. He managed to combine those fascinations into a career in space science. Read More...
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Last Updated: 18 Apr 2012