Looking to the skies for guidance, the ancient Nordic Vikings were rather accomplished seafarers through their knowledge of the sun and stars.
But as surprisingly well-versed in astronomy as the Vikings were, they were never able to gaze upon celestial bodies quite like another set of “Vikings” did. No, I don’t mean another civilization of Vikings from humanity’s past, I am, of course, referring to the Viking program, a NASA initiative from the 1970s aimed at documenting Mars.
Enacted in 1975, the Viking program consisted of the launching of two space probes, aptly named Viking 1 and Viking 2. The two probes were launched into space within weeks of each other (August 20th, 1975 and September 9th, 1975, respectively) and entered the orbit of the Red Planet in almost exactly a year.
Orbiting Mars for over a month, the two Viking probes constantly documented images of the planet and sent them back to NASA. The orbiters continued this task while the second phase of the Viking program was carried out, with two landers sent to the surface of Mars to get a closer look at the planet.
Widely regarded as a major success, the Viking program gave humanity a wealth of knowledge on Mars that was previously unknown. One major finding was the existence of geological formations that pointed to bodies of water once existing on Mars, with evidence of rivers and lakes documented.
And you can see what Viking 1 and Viking 2 captured in the video below, a supercut of images from the Viking program. Take a look at the Red Planet seen from above the planet’s surface below!
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