Our views from the red planet’s surface are more spectacular than ever.
Ever since the earliest spaceflight, humanity has reached for Mars.
The Soviet Union’s Mars 3, in 1971, almost succeeded.
The lander’s Prop-M rover failed 105 seconds after successful touchdown.
But in 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 and 2 spacecraft arrived on Mars.
Landing in Chryse Planitia and Utopia Planitia, both missions succeeded.
Viking 1 survived for 2307 days: a record later broken by Opportunity.
No other landings succeeded until 1997: with NASA’s Pathfinder mission.
The attached rover, Sojourner, operated for 83 days, vastly exceeding its planned 7-day lifetime.
Sojourner paved the way for NASA’s subsequent 2004 rovers: Spirit and Opportunity.
Engineered for 90-day missions, they both outlasted all expectations.
After thousands of new discoveries, Opportunity ceased functioning after 5498 Earth days.
2008’s Mars Phoenix Lander discovered water-ice right beneath its own feet.
2012 saw the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, land on Mars.
Curiosity’s successes informed the Mars Perseverance Rover’s design.
In 2018, the Insight mission landed on Mars: the red planet’s greatest seismometer.
With Perseverance’s 2021 touchdown, our scientific knowledge is poised to explode.
Ingenuity will deploy shortly: the first powered flight on another world.
China’s Tianwen-1 lander and ESA’s ExoMars mission will continue humanity’s Martian legacy.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.