Mars, our red neighbor, has been a subject of study by astronomers since at least the 15th century. But when did the first attempts by NASA and Russia to reach the planet occur?
Today we are more familiar with the planet: after the color red, we know that it is rocky, cold and sterile, and has very strong winds that have complicated sending more than one robot there. It also has deep craters, that earthquakes happen very regularly, and that even now, there are no signs of past life, let alone there.
But on Earth we struggle to get to know our neighbor more and more. There are many missions that make life in Mars orbit, as well as some on the surface, such as NASA’s perseverance. How did it all start?
The first missions from Earth to Mars
The Soviet Union sent the first probe to the red planet: Mars 1, which took off in June 1963. However, it went beyond 193 thousand km from the target, without being able to get more information.
The United States was honored to receive the first dispatch from the vicinity of Mars. It happened with the Mariner 4 probe, in 1965, and then Mariner 6 and 7, which observed a cratered planet, very similar to the Moon.
NASA explains what the Red Planet represents:
“Since the first close-up image of Mars in 1965, spacecraft flights to the Red Planet have revealed a world eerily familiar, yet different enough to challenge our perceptions of what makes the planet function.”
“The closer we feel to understanding Mars,” Agency recognizes “The new discoveries bring us straight back to the drawing board to revise existing theories.”
If the American probe Mariner 9 is the first to remain in Mars orbit, watching dust storms destroy everything on the planet, The Soviet Mars 3 was the first to reach the surface.
It happened on December 2, 1971: The Mars 3 spacecraft reached the surface of Mars, specifically in Ptolemy’s crater. It was made up of an orbital unit and a coupled landing unit, He was looking for images of the surface, for clouds, and for analyzes of the climate.
However, send transmission to Earth It only lasted 20 seconds. At the time, an image without major detail was seen, with very low light. After that, there was no more information about what happened to Mars 3: It is believed that a sandstorm put an end to its operation.
Mars Pathfinder, the success that definitely opened doors
In the 1970s, the United States launched the Viking 1 and Viking 2 probes, but neither of them could send information back to Earth. Mars was still a mystery, the solution of which will begin only from 1997, When NASA’s Mars Pathfinder landed successfully, it temporarily roamed the planet.
Since then, the United States, China, Russia, Europe (ESA), India and the United Arab Emirates have sought to continue exploring the planet, some with greater success than others, but They all contribute another piece of information to get to know our red neighbor.
We can even see Real-time image of Mars in this link from NASA.
Each time, Earth is closer to knowing if it is possible to settle on Mars.
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