July 20, 1976 - Viking 1 makes first Martian landing.

Paving the way for generations of Martian landers and orbiters, NASA’s Viking 1 mission became the first spacecraft to safely land on the Red Planet’s surface on this day in 1976. 

Following launch on a Titan IIIE rocket, Viking’s 10-month cruise to Mars culminated in orbit insertion on June 19. Landing was initially planned for the United State’s Bicentennial on July 4, 1976, but initial reconnaissance of the landing site proved to be too rough for the spacecraft. Landing was delayed to July 20th at Chryse Planitia.

Two 1,270 pound landers complimented two orbiters as part of NASA’s Viking program. Viking 1 launched on August 20, 1975 and landed on July 20, 1976, while Viking 2 launched on September 9, 1975 and landed on September 3, 1976.

The first photograph ever taken from the surface of Mars showing one of Viking 1′s landing pads.

Viking’s science instruments provided the first in-situ, or ground based observations of Martian seismic, atmospheric, and chemical activity. Since the biological compatibility of Mars’ surface was completely unknown at the time, both Viking landers carried instruments to directly test of organic life. Of the four, three instruments returned negative results while one returned a positive result. 

This discrepancy was first attributed to the chemical reactions of inorganic compounds in the Martian soil, but has been disputed in recent years as data from other Martian missions has been analyzed.

Viking 1 far outlasted its designed operational lifetime of 90 days, transmitting data until November 11, 1982. Upon its deactivation, it was named the Thomas Mutch Memorial Station after the leader of the program’s imaging team.

Viking 1′s Surface Sampler Boom prepares to deliver a soil sample to the spacecraft’s science instruments.

“I am essentially a painter of the kind of still-life composition that communicates a sense of tranquility and privacy, moods which I have always valued above all else…”

Celebrating the Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, who was born on this day in 1890. “Still Life” (1943)

It is all very beautiful and magical here, a quality which cannot be described.
- Ansel Adams
#Summer at the Conservatory Garden #CentralPark #NewYorkCity
#OTD 163 years ago, the New York State legislature set aside more than 750 acres of land on the island of #Manhattan creating America’s first major landscaped public park. The park has since been extended to 843 acres.
So lucky to have this gem of a park in the middle of this great city! Happy birthday Central Park! You bring joy in so many ways! 💐
#hbdcentralpark (at Central Park Conservatory Garden)

Made with Instagram

By Jean Marie Carey

Decorative painter Alessandro Alberti died in Rome on 10 July 1596. Born in Sansepolcro (then called Borgo San-Sepolcro) in Tuscany in 1551, Alberti was the eldest of three. His brothers were also artists: Cherubino (1553–1615) a decorator and engraver, and Giovanni, a poet and writer who was well-known for his trompe l'oeil ceiling painting (quadratura). Alessandro often collaborated with his siblings on such projects as painting rooms at the Vatican commemorating Pope Clement VII (1596) and decorating the Palazzo Tornabuoni in his home city (1588).

On his own Alberti gained commissions to participate in the design of the Bufalini Chapel at Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome (1576–7); and to decorate the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua (1586). He traveled to Naples in 1588 to paint and embellish the palace of Don Luigi di Toledo. Many of Alberti’s works are undocumented or perhaps unrealized but were known from sketches kept by his family.

 Reference:  Janis Callen Bell. “Alberti, Alessandro.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. <http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T001520pg1>.

Painted detail, Bufalini Chapel, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome, c. 1590. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Prudence [verso], c. 1596, attributed to the brothers Alberti, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Gift of William B. O'Neal.

 Cherubino Alberti, c. 1588, Winter [The Four Seasons], engraving, The Warburg Institute, University of London.

 Painted detail from the ceiling of the Ducal Palace in Mantua, c. 1590. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.