Learn about the landing of Viking on Mars. Also learn about the importance of finding living organisms on Mars.
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Of all the other places that life might exist in the solar system, the chances would be at greatest that life may have at some time existed on Mars. And so a simulated expedition was developed on computer. After traveling through space for nearly one year, a unique landing craft approaches Mars to soft land on a planet covered with dust. In the Martian dust, there may be chemical evidences of life. In 1975, two Viking spacecraft were launched, each of which was programmed to land a robot on the Martian surface. One of its principle objectives was to test for the presence or absence of living organisms. A communication system linked the spacecraft to the mission control and computing center in Pasadena, California. On June 19th, 1976, the first Viking arrived in the vicinity of Mars, after a year-long journey of more than 400 million miles. Once in orbit, its cameras were turned to a detailed examination of the landing area. While the lander conducted experiments on the surface, the orbiter swinging around the planet measured variations in moisture and temperature and took high resolution photographs of the Martian terrain. Over millions of years, the repeated flows of lava had built the volcanic mountains of Mars. 12 are larger than any on earth. The largest, Olympus Mons rises three times higher than Mt. Everest and is broad enough to cover the whole chain of volcanoes that form the Hawaiian Islands.