Viking 1: The Historic First Mars Landing in Pictures

Bring Mars to Life


Only six weeks after arriving on the Martian surface, Viking 1 Lander beamed home this color image of a wide, low plain now called Chryse Planitia. The surface is covered with large rocks and loose sand and dust. At the bottom of the image, Viking's radio thermal generator cover shows off its American flag.

Martian Sunset


About a month after landing on the Red Planet, on August 20, 1976, the Viking 1 Lander captured this intriguing sunset over Chryse Planitia using its Scanning Camera 2.

Dreaming of the Future

Lockheed Martin

Charles Bennett, an employee at Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) created this acrylic watercolor scene of a Viking lander on the surface of Mars.

Doing the Work


Part of the Viking mission objective was to learn about the composition of the Red Planet's atmosphere and its surface. The Viking 1 Lander used its sampling arm to dig deep trenches and collect samples. Some of these experiments were performed on soil from the "Sandy Flats" of the Chryse Planitia.

Two Well-Known Figures


In Death Valley, California, astrophysicist Carl Sagan poses with a Viking lander model.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.