Fascinating Timeline of Mars Exploration.

Tomorrow Mars will be the closest to earth that it’s been since 2007, so not only will it be visible to the naked eye, but through the use of even a small telescope a number of topical Martian features will be visible.

Also on this day (April 7th) in 2001 the “2001 Mars Odyssey” was launched.

In honour of these two events we have created an amazing timeline of Mars exploration. The timeline includes every attempted mission to Mars since the Soviet Mars 1M No.1 and No.2 were launched in October 1960.  Both missions failed due to launch failure.

After another failure in October 1962 (Mars 2MV-4) The Mars 1, launched in November 1962, collected some data, however contact was lost before reaching Mars. The first real success came from NASA’s Mariner 4, launched in November 1964 (launched shortly after the failed Mariner 3). Mariner 4 arrived to Mars in July 1965, returning a total of 21 Images.

The first successful orbiter was the Mariner 9, launched by NASA in May 1971 and the first successful landing on Mars was the soviet Mars 2, however the Lander ceased transmission within 15 seconds of landing.

The first successful Rover landed on Mars was NASA’s Pathfinder. Launched in December 1996, Pathfinder landed on Mars  in July 1997.

4 of the oribiters on the timeline are still orbiting Mars and 2 rovers are still active on the surface. There are 2 orbiters en-route and 3 further missions (including another rover, and a drill to study the interior of mars) are planned between 2016 and 2018


If you find the timeline a bit overwhelming due to the large number of events you will be pleased to know we have just started work on a feature to automatically hide less important events until you zoom in to a point in time. This feature will be deployed in our next release, due within the next month or two.

A future feature of Histropedia is going to be the ability to filter any timeline. To give an example of this I have created 2 variations of this timeline, one of them shows only the successful missions and the other ones shows all of the orbiter missions (successful and unsuccessful)


Source Wikipedia: Exploration of Mars

Images: Mars 1M, Viking, Mars Global Surveyor, 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

All images courtesy of NASA taken from corresponding Wikipedia articles.

Sean McBirnie

Co-Founder at Histropedia

Latest posts by Sean McBirnie (see all)

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