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Science and Technology: Mars


Mars Exploration and Settlement

Since our first close-up picture of Mars in 1965, spacecraft voyages to the Red Planet have revealed a world strangely familiar, yet different enough to challenge our perceptions of what makes a planet work. Every time we feel close to understanding Mars, new discoveries send us straight back to the drawing board to revise existing theories.

You'd think Mars would be easier to understand. Like Earth, Mars has polar ice caps and clouds in its atmosphere, seasonal weather patterns, volcanoes, canyons and other recognizable features. However, conditions on Mars vary wildly from what we know on our own planet.

Over the past three decades, spacecraft have shown us that Mars is rocky, cold, and sterile beneath its hazy, pink sky. We've discovered that today's Martian wasteland hints at a formerly volatile world where volcanoes once raged, meteors plowed deep craters, and flash floods rushed over the land. And Mars continues to throw out new enticements with each landing or orbital pass made by our spacecraft. Source: NASA

Mariner 3 & 4

Mariner 4 provided the first up close pictures of Mars. After a 228 day cruise, Mariner 4 passed Mars at a distance of 9,846 kilometers on July 14, 1965. During its encounter, the spacecraft took 22 television pictures that covered about 1 percent of the Martian surface. The images revealed a vast, barren wasteland of craters strewn about a rust-colored carpet of sand. Once past Mars, Mariner 4 orbited the Sun prior to returning to the vicinity of Earth again in 1967. Engineers then decided to use the aging craft for a series of operational and telemetry tests to improve their knowledge of the technologies that would be needed for future interplanetary spacecraft. All operations ceased on December 20, 1967. A sister ship, Mariner 3, was launched three weeks earlier than Mariner 4, but was lost when the launch vehicle's nose fairing failed to jettison. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

General Information About Mars (NASA)

Discover. Create. Succeed.