Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun – a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Mars is also a dynamic planet with seasons, polar ice caps, canyons, extinct volcanoes, and evidence that it was even more active in the past.
The Latest from Mars
- Clays, Not Water, Are Likely Source of Mars ‘Lakes’
- NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars
Mars is one of the most explored bodies in our solar system, and it’s the only planet where we’ve sent rovers to roam the alien landscape.
NASA currently has two rovers (Curiosity and Perseverance), one lander (InSight), and one helicopter (Ingenuity) exploring the surface of Mars.
Perseverance rover – the largest, most advanced rover NASA has sent to another world – touched down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, after a 203-day journey traversing 293 million miles (472 million kilometers). The Ingenuity helicopter rode to Mars attached to the belly of Perseverance.
Perseverance is one of three spacecraft that arrived at Mars in 2021. The Hope orbiter from the United Arab Emirates arrived on Feb. 9, 2021. China’s Tianwen-1 mission arrived on Feb. 10, 2021, and includes an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. Europa and India also have spacecraft studying Mars from orbit.
In May 2021, China became the second nation to ever land successfully on Mars when its Zhurong Mars rover touched down.
An international fleet of eight orbiters is studying the Red Planet from above including three NASA orbiters: 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and MAVEN.
These robotic explorers have found lots of evidence that Mars was much wetter and warmer, with a thicker atmosphere, billions of years ago.