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The Race to Mars 1965 1969 1971-72 1973-74 1976 1988 1993 1996 1997 1999 2001 2003-04 2005 Milestones in exploration

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Image of the Martian plain, Chryse Planitia, looking over the Viking 1 lander. The image was taken on 30 August 1976, a little over a month after landing
July and September 1976

Nasa's Viking 1 and 2 landers touch down on the surface of Mars. Instruments on the spacecraft provide valuable information about the planet's atmosphere and surface.

Biological experiments discover strange chemical activity in the Martian soil but no clear evidence of life or any of the organic compounds found on Earth. The planet is pronounced sterile.

This is challenged two decades later when Nasa claims to have found microbial fossils inside a Mars rock that fell to Earth.

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