The following is a brief history of human attempts to reach planet Mars and its fascinating secrets, all info from Wikipedia, cut down to the bone by us.
A Mars 1M spacecraft, it was intended to conduct a flyby of Mars, however it was lost in a launch failure before it could begin its mission.
During preparations for the launch, an oxidiser leak in the second stage caused liquid oxygen, at cryogenic temperature, to spill around the engine’s fuel inlet valve. This froze the stage’s RP-1 propellent, leaving the engine unable to ignite. As a result, the spacecraft failed to achieve Earth orbit.
Due to a problem with the rocket which launched it, it was destroyed in low Earth orbit. It was the first of two Mars 2MV-4 spacecraft to be launched, the other being the Mars 1 spacecraft which was launched eight days later.
On 21 March 1963, when the spacecraft was at a distance of 106,760,000 km (66,340,000 mi) from Earth on its way to Mars, communications ceased.
Mars 1 closest approach to Mars probably occurred on June 19 at a distance of approximately 193,000 km (120,000 mi).
Due to a problem with the rocket which launched it, it did not depart low Earth orbit, and it decayed several days later.
A below-normal velocity appeared to indicate that the fairing had not separated properly. Eight hours after launch, the batteries in the probe died and the mission was officially terminated.
It captured the first images of another planet ever returned from deep space; their depiction of a cratered, seemingly dead world largely changed the view of the scientific community on life on Mars.
Zond 2, a Mars 3MV-4A craft, was launched on November 30, 1964. During some maneuvering in early May 1965, communications were lost. Running on half power due to the loss of one of its solar panels, the spacecraft flew by Mars on August 6, 1965 at 5.62 km/s, 1,500 km away from the planet.
Closest approach for Mariner 6 occurred July 31, 1969, at 05:19:07 UT at a distance of 3,431 kilometres (2,132 mi) above the martian surface.
If successful, this would still be a major propaganda success for the Soviets as NASA was nearly three years away from attempting a Mars orbiter.
Despite doubts that the probes were ready to fly, they were delivered to Baikonour.
Based on the observations that Mariner 6 made, Mariner 7 was reprogrammed in flight to take further observations of areas of interest and actually returned more pictures than Mariner 6, despite the battery’s failure.
It was one of two Mars 2M spacecraft, along with Mars 2M No.521, which was launched in 1969 as part of the Mars program. Neither launch was successful.
It was intended to go into Mars orbit and return images and data, but a launch vehicle failure prevented Mariner 8 from even achieving an Earth orbit and the spacecraft reentered into the Atlantic Ocean shortly after launch.
The spacecraft was launched on May 10, 1971, however due to an upper stage malfunction it failed to depart low Earth orbit.
The lander of Mars 2 became the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars, although the landing system failed and the lander was lost.
Mars 3 lander became the first spacecraft to attain soft landing on Mars.
Mars 3 lander had a small 4.5 kg ‘Mars rover’ on board. Because of the demise of the lander, the rover was not deployed.
Shortly after performing a course correction on 30 July 1973, two onboard computers failed, leaving Mars 4 unable to perform manoeuvres. As a result of this, it was unable to enter orbit around Mars.
The spacecraft’s pressurised instrument compartment began to leak as soon as the spacecraft entered orbit around Mars, which controllers believed to be the result of a micrometeoroid impact during orbital insertion.
The spacecraft returned data for 224 seconds during its descent through the Martian atmosphere. However, at 09:11:05 UTC, with the spacecraft about to fire its retrorockets in preparation for landing, all contact was lost.
Mars 7’s lander separated from the flyby bus on 9 March 1974. Initially, it failed to separate. However, it was eventually released to begin its descent. Due to a retrorocket failure, the probe missed the atmosphere of Mars, and, instead of landing, flew past, with a closest approach of 1,300 km (810 mi).
Viking 1 held the record for the longest Mars surface mission of 2307 days or 2245 sols until that record was broken by Opportunity on May 19, 2010.
The Viking 2 lander operated on the surface for 1316 days, or 1281 sols, and was turned off on April 11, 1980 when its batteries failed.
The orbiter worked until July 25, 1978, returning almost 16,000 images in 706 orbits around Mars.
The program featured cooperation from 14 other nations, including Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, France, West Germany, and the United States.
Phobos 2 investigated Mars’s surface and atmosphere and returned 37 images of Phobos with a resolution of up to 40 meters.
During the interplanetary cruise phase, communication with the spacecraft was lost on August 21, 1993, 3 days prior to orbital insertion. Attempts to re-establish communication with the spacecraft were unsuccessful.
It completed its primary mission in January 2001 and was in its third extended mission phase when, on 2 November 2006, the spacecraft failed to respond to messages and commands.
After failure of the second fourth-stage burn, the probe assembly re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, breaking up over a 200-mile long portion of the Pacific Ocean, Chile, and Bolivia.
The rover operated successfully for almost three months. Communication failed after 7 October, 1997.
It was constructed by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, University of Tokyo and launched on July 4, 1998 at 03:12 JST (18:12 UTC) with an on-orbit dry mass of 258 kg and 282 kg of propellant.
The spacecraft encountered Mars on a trajectory that brought it too close to the planet, causing it to pass through the upper atmosphere and disintegrate.
On December 3, 1999, however, after the descent phase was expected to be complete, the lander failed to reestablish communication with Earth. A post-mortem analysis determined the most likely cause of the mishap was premature termination of the engine firing prior to the lander touching the surface, causing it to strike the planet at a high velocity.
It is hoped that the data Odyssey obtains will help answer the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars and create a risk-assessment of the radiation future astronauts on Mars might experience. The mission was named as a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, evoking the name of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Mars Express consists of two parts, the Mars Express Orbiter and the Beagle 2, a lander designed to perform exobiology and geochemistry research. Although the lander failed to fully deploy after it landed on the Martian surface, the orbiter has been successfully performing scientific measurements since early 2004.
The rover became stuck in late 2009, and its last communication with Earth was sent on March 22, 2010.
Opportunity has continued to move, gather scientific observations, and report back to Earth for over 50 times its designed lifespan.
MRO’s telecommunications system will transfer more data back to Earth than all previous interplanetary missions combined, and MRO will serve as a highly capable relay satellite for future missions.
The program was a partnership of universities in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates (MDA) and other aerospace companies.
It was launched on 9 November 2011 at 02:16 local time (8 November 2011, 20:16 UTC) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but subsequent rocket burns intended to set the craft on a course for Mars failed, leaving it stranded in low Earth orbit.
The (Ray Douglas) Bradbury Landing site was less than 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from the center of the rover’s touchdown target after a 563,000,000 km (350,000,000 mi) journey.
It is India’s first interplanetary mission and ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
On September 22, 2014, at approximately 2:24 UTC, MAVEN spacecraft entered orbit around Mars, completing an interplanetary journey of 10 months and 442 million miles (711 million kilometers).
The Trace Gas Orbiter delivered the Schiaparelli lander and will start atmospheric mapping in 2017.
The lander’s radio signal was lost during the descent through the Mars atmosphere and later the lander was confirmed to have crashed.