With Mars being the closest planet to Earth, everyone is racing to explore everything the red planet has to offer. An entire world awaits, with limitless possibilities that could bring new knowledge and advancements to all of mankind.
So far, several spacecrafts have been sent to Mars, but only about one of three missions have ever shown success. The many trials have proven it to be very difficult to send a craft to our neighboring planet and back to Earth in its original condition.
The first ever successful attempt at getting pictures of the planet was the Mariner 4, which passed in July 1965. It was the first carrier able to get in close enough proximity to capture clear images of the foreign world.
Once images were delivered, the next big step was to land a vehicle on its surface, in order to collect more data. The Soviet space program was the first to successfully do so, when in 1971 Mars 3 made it onto solid ground. However, the lander only received about twenty second of data before going completely dark, leaving Mars a mystery once again.
The next successful mission was NASA’s Mariner 9 which returned significant information on the planet’s surface, atmosphere, and topography. However, with new knowledge, came new questions.
The nature of ancient riverbeds was then put into question, that alludes to the presence of liquid water on Mars. This leaves scientists wondering if there could have possibly been a life source to utilize the water there.
Afterwards, came Viking 1 and 2 which were a pair of orbiting/landing missions that landed on Mars in 1976. Their photos and data extensively arrived until 1982, and astonished people all across the globe. The landers conducted Martian soil experiments to uncover many signs of life in space. Though nothing was proven for certain, the idea is both tantalizing and exhilarating.
Mars pathfinder mission was capable of landing the first ever rover on Mars, which brought data from all over the planet’s surface. The free-moving vehicle was able to collect all sorts of valuable data, such as weather statistics, chemical soil analysis, and hundreds of thousands of images.
However, the most famous of all the Martian missions have been the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which arrived in January of 2004. The two rovers began at opposite sides of the planet, traveling over several miles. They have used their lab modules in order to conduct robotic field geology tests on soil and rocks found all over Mars.
With all of these robots being sent to this mysterious planet, scientists, such as the ones at NASA, are itching to send an astronaut there as well. Many more robotic missions are in development and will be taking place long before any humans will have the chance to go there.
Scientists are hoping that robotic craft will be able to dig deep into the surface and discover the history of the planet, unlike ever before. In hopes of returning some of the planet’s geology, there could be discovery of water, and even life, hidden beneath Mars’s surface.