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Jason Davis headshot v.3

An Updated Mars Exploration Family Portrait

Posted By Jason Davis

18-12-2013 11:16 CST

Topics: spacecraft, Mars

The Mars Exploration Family Portrait has been updated—just in time for the holidays.

I created the portrait before the launch of Curiosity in 2011 to answer this question: How many spacecraft have we sent to Mars? Curiosity, I concluded, was number 40. Humans have been sending robotic ambassadors to Mars for over half a century, but that’s certainly no guarantee of future success. Just ask the engineers and scientists behind Russia's sample return spacecraft Phobos-Grunt (number 39). After the engines responsible for sending Phobos-Grunt out of Earth orbit failed, the vehicle became stranded and eventually tumbled back into the atmosphere.

The portrait received its first major update after Curiosity survived its seven minutes of terror in 2012. Since then, the portable science laboratory has found evidence that early Mars was wet and suitable for life. Its ChemCam laser has went pew-pew-pew 100,000 times. And it has measured the age of a rock that's around four billion years old. 

Curiosity and the handful of other currently operating Mars spacecraft will soon be joined by India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. The spacecraft launched on November 5 and is expected to arrive at Mars in mid-September 2014. MOM is India’s first Mars mission, placing the country in an elite group that includes the United States, Russia/former Soviet Union, Japan and the European Space Agency.

And so, the Mars Exploration Family Portrait received its third update. EDIT: I completely forgot about MAVEN, which launched November 18. My apologies—it has been added. It will soon be fixed in the Zazzle store as well.

The Mars Exploration Family Portrait

NASA / Roscosmos / JAXA / ESA / ISRO / Created by Jason Davis

The Mars Exploration Family Portrait
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait shows every dedicated spacecraft mission to Mars, and now includes India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA's MAVEN. The dates listed are for launch.

You can download the portrait free for personal use, or head over to The Planetary Society’s Zazzle store and buy a poster-sized version—suitable for any space fan this holiday season. While you’re browsing the store, I recommend you check out some of the Society’s other swag—personally, I’m a fan of the shuttle landing T-shirt.

I also want to thank everyone for their continued interest in the portrait. It has been translated into Dutch and Italian, and will soon appear in the latest edition of the textbook Information Graphics

Mars Exploratie Familie

Karin Heesakkers

Mars Exploratie Familie
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait, translated into Dutch and on display at the Sonnenborgh museum and public observatory in the Netherlands.
See other posts from December 2013


Read more blog entries about: spacecraft, Mars


Jason Davis: 12/18/2013 01:24 CST

I was so focused on MOM that I forgot about MAVEN. I'll have a fresh version shortly.

Nils : 12/18/2013 02:50 CST

The 1971 trio of Soviet missions have gone missing.

Nils : 12/18/2013 03:02 CST

Mars Odyssey was launched in April.

Nils : 12/18/2013 03:08 CST

You might add Yinghuo–1 to Fobos–Grunt.

Øyvind Guldbrandsen: 12/19/2013 01:26 CST

Mars 4 and 5 are not represented with a picture (unlike Mars 6 and 7, they had remote sensing instruments instead of landers). Mars 3MS (Cosmos 419) and Mars 2 and 3 are missing completely. Nice overview anyway!

Qiang Wen: 12/20/2013 02:26 CST

Well, i have my own version of this image. same thing except i added YinHuo-1 Mars Orbiter along side with Fobos-Grunt and a Chinese flag. :)

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