Viking 2 safely landed on Mars a year later on September 3, 1976 after entering orbit of the Red planet on August 7. This followed the first successful spacecraft landing on Mars by Viking 1 on July 20,1976. It was part of NASA’s early two-part mission to investigate the Red Planet and search for signs of life.

While neither spacecraft found traces of life, they did find all the elements essential to life on Earth: carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorus.

Viking 2 mission consisted of a lander and an orbiter designed to take high-resolution images, and study the Martian surface and atmosphere.

Viking 2 set down on the broad, flat plains of Utopia Planitia, where it snapped photos of morning frost.

Both the Viking 1 and 2 landers benefited greatly from their orbiting counterparts, which snapped images that helped mission controllers navigate the landers to safe landing sites.

The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1316 days, or 1281 sols, and was turned off on April 12, 1980 when its batteries failed.