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The Viking mission went to Mars to look for signs of life, to study the soil and atmosphere, and to take pictures. There were two launches of paired orbiters and landers, aboard Titan-Centaur rockets. Each orbiter took pictures of candidate landing sites before the final landing sequence began. The Viking landers arrived on Mars within six weeks of one another in 1976.
Viking 2’s landing was more dramatic than NASA might have hoped: As the lander separated and began to descend, the orbiter’s stabilization system went awry, blacking out for almost an hour. The craft rolled in a way that its main antenna no longer pointed to Earth.