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On this day 39 years ago, NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft launched aboard a Titan/Centaur launch vehicle beginning its near year-long journey to Mars.

Immediately following touchdown, the Viking 1 lander made history by taking and transmitting the first complete photograph taken from the surface of Mars. The image ( was of the Viking 1 lander’s foot as an indication of how far it had sunk into the Martian surface. Between itself and its companion,Viking 2, this historic photograph was just the first of more than 50,000 images taken from the Martian surface, as well as from orbit, and transmitted back to Earth.

What makes Viking 1 especially worth nothing is that not only was the spacecraft the first attempt by the United States at landing on Mars, but it was also the first to successfully do so and perform its mission. During its operation on the Martian surface, Viking 1 became the record holder for longest Mars surface mission at 2307 days, until Mars Rover Opportunity took the record in 2010.

To read more about Viking 1:


A Typographical History of NASA

Data artists and visualization researchers at the Office for Creative Research dug through 11,000 pages of NASA history reports, containing nearly 5 million words, to assemble this typographical timeline of the U.S. space program.

The vertical waves represent the total NASA and percent of national budgets (which is why it begins to shrink toward the right side of the page). The most important words and phrases from each year are listed in lieu of traditional milestones, giving us a unique perspective on the key events that led us up up and away.

Tour the full-size, interactive visualization of NASA’s history here, it’s really something (and it’s also way too big for me to show you on my blog)

(via Popular Science)


“To provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.” - National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958

On July 29th, 1958 — ten months after Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit — President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act. Beginning operations later that year, NASA entered the highly competitive Space Race against the Soviet Union. Culminating with the success of Apollo, the economic benefits and technological advances during NASA’s first decade were immediately felt. Since 1958, twelve astronauts have walked on the Moon, four rovers and four landers have touched down on the Martian soil, and most recently, Voyager I became the first man-made object to enter interstellar space. Perhaps the greatest achievement of this agency, however, has been the success of the International Space Station. Astronauts from various space agencies across the planet have been living and studying aboard the ISS since 2000. NASA has had a rich history, but an even more promising future awaits.

Today, on the anniversary of the National Aeronautics and Space Act, join us by writing Congress to express the importance of raising the minuscule NASA budget to a level that will ensure a strong future for all humanity.

Sign the petition, spread the word:

Read the National Aeronautics and Space Act:
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