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.
10 October 1960
First mission to Mars
Mars 1M No.1, designated Mars 1960A by NASA analysts and dubbed Marsnik 1 by the Western media, was the first spacecraft launched as part of the Soviet Union’s Mars programme. 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.
14 October 1960
Mars 1M No.2 was the second Mars 1M spacecraft to be launched, lifting off four days after its sister craft, Mars 1M No.1, had been lost during the Molniya 8K78 rocket’s maiden flight. 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.
24 October 1962
Mars 2MV-4 No.1 also known as Sputnik 22 in the West, was a Soviet spacecraft, which was launched in 1962 as part of the Mars programme, and was intended to make a flyby of Mars, and transmit images of the planet back to Earth. 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.
1 November 1962
Mars 1, also known as 1962 Beta Nu 1, Mars 2MV-4 and Sputnik 23, was an automatic interplanetary station launched in the direction of Mars on November 1, 1962, the first of the Soviet Mars probe program. 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).
4 November 1962
The first lander attempt
Mars 2MV-3 No.1 also known as Sputnik 24 in the West, was a Soviet spacecraft, which was launched in 1962 as part of the Mars program, and was intended to land on the surface of Mars. Due to a problem with the rocket which launched it, it did not depart low Earth orbit, and it decayed several days later.
5 November 1964
NASA, at last
Mariner 3 (together with Mariner 4 known as Mariner-Mars 1964) was one of two identical deep-space probes designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA’s Mariner-Mars 1964 project that were intended to conduct close-up (flyby) scientific observations of the planet Mars. 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.
28 November 1964
First picture (from deep space)
Launched on November 28, 1964, Mariner 4 performed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars, returning the first pictures of the Martian surface. 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.
30 November 1964
Lost in space
Zond 2 was a 1964 space probe, a member of the Soviet Zond program, and was the fifth Soviet spacecraft to attempt a flyby of 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.
25 February 1969
Dual mission (Mariner 6)
As part of NASA’s wider Mariner program, Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 (Mariner Mars 69A and Mariner Mars 69B) completed the first dual mission to Mars in 1969. 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.
27 March 1969
Mars 2M No.521, also known as Mars M-69 No.521 and sometimes identified by NASA as Mars 1969A, was a Soviet spacecraft which was lost in a launch failure in 1969. It consisted of an orbiter. 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.
27 March 1969
Dual mission (Mariner 7)
On July 29, 1969, less than a week before closest approach [with Mariner 6], Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) lost contact with Mariner 7. The center regained the signal via the backup low-gain antenna. 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.
2 April 1969
Soviet interlude II
Mars 2M No.522, also known as Mars M-69 No.522 and sometimes identified by NASA as Mars 1969B, was a Soviet spacecraft which was lost in a launch failure in 1969. 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.
9 May 1971
Mariner-H (Mariner Mars ’71), also commonly known as Mariner 8, was (along with Mariner 9) part of the Mariner Mars ’71 project. 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.
10 May 1971
Reaching for the kosmos
Kosmos 419 (Russian: Космос 419 meaning Cosmos 419), also known as 3MS No.170 was a failed Soviet spacecraft intended to visit Mars. The spacecraft was launched on May 10, 1971, however due to an upper stage malfunction it failed to depart low Earth orbit.
19 May 1971
First man made object on Mars
The Mars 2 was an unmanned space probe of the Mars program, a series of unmanned Mars landers and orbiters launched by the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. The Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical spacecraft, each with an orbiter and an attached lander. 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.
28 May 1971
Mars 3 was an unmanned space probe of the Soviet Mars program which spanned the years between 1960 and 1973. Mars 3 was launched nine days after its twin spacecraft Mars 2. 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.
30 May 1971
Mariner 9 (Mariner Mars ’71 / Mariner-I) was an unmanned NASA space probe that contributed greatly to the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 14 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet – only narrowly beating the Soviets’ Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month.
21 July 1973
Mars 4 (Russian: Марс-4), also known as 3MS No.52S was a Soviet spacecraft intended to explore Mars. A 3MS spacecraft launched as part of the Mars programme, it was intended to enter orbit around Mars in 1974. 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.
25 July 1973
Mars 5 (Russian: Марс-5), also known as 3MS No.53S was a Soviet spacecraft launched to explore Mars. A 3MS spacecraft launched as part of the Mars programme, it successfully entered orbit around Mars in 1974. However, it failed a few days later. 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.
5 August 1973
Mars 6 (Russian: Марс-6), also known as 3MP No.50P was a Soviet spacecraft launched to explore Mars. A 3MP bus spacecraft launched as part of the Mars programme, it consisted of a lander, and a coast stage with instruments to study Mars as it flew past. 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.
9 August 1973
Mars 7 (Russian: Марс-7), also known as 3MP No.51P was a Soviet spacecraft launched to explore Mars. 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).
20 August 1975
Doing it right
Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft (along with Viking 2) sent to Mars as part of NASA’s Viking program. On July 20, 1976, it became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission. 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.
9 September 1975
Doing it right (again)
The Viking 2 mission was part of the American Viking program to Mars, and consisted of an orbiter and a lander essentially identical to that of the Viking 1 mission. 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.
7 July 1988
Back at it together
The Phobos (Russian: Фобос, Fobos, Greek: Φόβος) program was an unmanned space mission consisting of two probes launched by the Soviet Union to study Mars and its moons Phobos and Deimos. Phobos 1 was launched on 7 July 1988, and Phobos 2 on 12 July 1988, each aboard a Proton-K rocket. Phobos 1 suffered a terminal failure en route to Mars. The program featured cooperation from 14 other nations, including Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, France, West Germany, and the United States.
12 July 1988
Back at it together (II)
Phobos 2 was launched on July 12, 1988, and entered orbit on January 29, 1989. Phobos 2 operated nominally throughout its cruise and Mars orbital insertion phases on January 29, 1989, gathering data on the Sun, the interplanetary medium, Mars, and Phobos. Phobos 2 investigated Mars’s surface and atmosphere and returned 37 images of Phobos with a resolution of up to 40 meters.
25 September 1992
Talk to me
The Mars Observer spacecraft, also known as the Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter, was a robotic space probe launched by NASA on September 25, 1992 to study the Martian surface, atmosphere, climate and magnetic field. 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.
7 November 1996
9 years, 11 months, 26 days
Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) was an American robotic spacecraft developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched November 1996. Mars Global Surveyor was a global mapping mission that examined the entire planet, from the ionosphere down through the atmosphere to the surface. 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.
16 November 1996
Mars 96 (sometimes called Mars 8) was a failed Mars mission launched in 1996 to investigate Mars by the Russian Space Forces and not directly related to the Soviet Mars probe program of the same name. 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.
4 December 1996
Mars Pathfinder (MESUR Pathfinder) is an American robotic spacecraft that landed a base station with a roving probe on Mars in 1997. It consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a lightweight (10.6 kg/23 lb) wheeled robotic Mars rover named Sojourner, which became the first rover to operate outside the Earth-Moon system. The rover operated successfully for almost three months. Communication failed after 7 October, 1997.
3 July 1998
Japan to Mars
Nozomi (のぞみ) (Japanese for “Wish” or “Hope,” and known before launch as Planet-B) was a planned and launched Mars-orbiting aeronomy probe. It did not reach Mars orbit due to electrical failures. Operation was terminated on December 31, 2003. 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.
11 December 1998
The Mars Climate Orbiter (formerly the Mars Surveyor ’98 Orbiter) was a 338-kilogram (745 lb) robotic space probe launched by NASA on December 11, 1998. However, on September 23, 1999, communication with the spacecraft was lost as the spacecraft went into orbital insertion, due to ground-based computer software which produced output in non-SI units of pound-seconds (lbf·s) instead of the SI units of newton-seconds (N·s). 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.
3 January 1999
Failed to land
The Mars Polar Lander, also known as the Mars Surveyor ’98 Lander, was a 290-kilogram robotic spacecraft lander launched by NASA on January 3, 1999. It formed part of the Mars Surveyor ’98 mission. 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.
7 April 2001
2001 Mars Odyssey
2001 Mars Odyssey is a robotic spacecraft orbiting the planet Mars. The project was developed by NASA, and contracted out to Lockheed Martin, with an expected cost for the entire mission of US$297 million. 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.
2 June 2003
Europe on Mars
Mars Express is a space exploration mission being conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA). The Mars Express mission is exploring the planet Mars, and is the first planetary mission attempted by the agency. 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.
10 June 2003
Spirit of Mars
Spirit, also known as MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover – A) or MER-2, is a robotic rover on Mars, active from 2004 to 2010. It was one of two rovers of NASA’s ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars at 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity (MER-B), landed on the other side of the planet. The rover became stuck in late 2009, and its last communication with Earth was sent on March 22, 2010.
8 July 2003
Opportunity on Mars
Opportunity, also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) or MER-1, is a robotic rover active on Mars since 2004. Launched on July 7, 2003 as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program, it landed in Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004, three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A) touched down on the other side of the planet. Opportunity has continued to move, gather scientific observations, and report back to Earth for over 50 times its designed lifespan.
12 August 2005
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is a multipurpose spacecraft designed to conduct reconnaissance and exploration of Mars from orbit. The mission is managed by the California Institute of Technology, at the JPL, in La Cañada Flintridge, California, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. 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.
4 August 2007
Phoenix was a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission on Mars. Mission scientists used instruments aboard the lander to search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water there. 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.
8 November 2011
Fobos-Grunt or Phobos-Grunt (Russian: Фобос-Грунт, literally “Phobos-Ground”) was an attempted Russian sample return mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. Fobos-Grunt also carried the Chinese Mars orbiter Yinghuo-1 and the tiny Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment funded by the Planetary Society. 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.
26 November 2011
The Martian Chronicles
Curiosity is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). As of November 16, 2016, Curiosity has been on Mars for 1522 sols (1563 total days) since landing on August 6, 2012. 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.
5 November 2013
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan (“Mars-craft”, from Sanskrit: मंगल mangala, “Mars” and यान yāna, “craft, vehicle”), is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 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.
18 November 2013
Searching for water
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN) is a space probe developed by NASA designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars. Mission goals include determining how the planet’s atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been substantial, were lost over time. 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).
14 March 2016
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) is a collaborative project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos that sent an atmospheric research orbiter and the Schiaparelli demonstration lander to Mars in 2016. 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.