Every Mission to Mars, Ever

Today, there are more spacecraft operating at Mars than any planet besides Earth—from orbiters to landers and rovers. Mars has been historically unkind to our attempts to send spacecraft there, with roughly half of all Mars missions failing. That percentage has improved in recent years.

What is on Mars and where?
What is on Mars and where? This infographic shows the location of every successful mission that has landed on Mars. It is free for media and non-commercial use with attribution.Image: The Planetary Society
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait
The Mars Exploration Family Portrait The Mars Exploration Family Portrait shows every dedicated space mission to Mars.Image: NASA/JPL/Roscosmos/JAXA/ESA/ISRO/MBRSC/Jason Davis/The Planetary Society

Perseverance, NASA's newest Mars rover

NASA's Perseverance rover will search for past life on Mars and store samples for future return to Earth.

Tianwen-1 and Zhurong, China's Mars orbiter and rover

China’s first Mars mission will search for pockets of water beneath the surface that could host life.

Hope, the United Arab Emirates' Mars mission

The UAE Hope Mars Mission is building a complete picture of Mars' climate.

InSight, NASA's Mars Lander Studying the Planet's Interior

InSight is a Mars lander studying the Red Planet's interior to learn how other worlds are made.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, mapping Mars’ atmosphere

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a collaboration between the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency Roscosmos, launched in March 2016 and arrived at Mars later that year.

MAVEN, studying how Mars lost its atmosphere

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft, MAVEN, studies how Mars loses its atmosphere to space. The orbiter also relays communications between surface missions and Earth.

Mangalyaan, India’s first Mars mission

Mangalyaan is India’s Mars orbiter that has been observing the planet since September 2014.

Curiosity, exploring Mars' surface

NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012 to search for evidence that the planet could once have supported Earth-like life.

Mars Express, studying Mars from orbit

Mars Express was the European Space Agency’s first planetary mission when it launched in 2003.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, studying the Red Planet's climate and geology

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is an orbiting spacecraft studying the geology and climate of the planet since 2006. It hosts the most powerful high-resolution camera ever sent to Mars.

NASA's Odyssey, studying Mars' surface

Odyssey monitors Mars’ surface changes and is a critical communications relay between surface spacecraft and Earth.

MMX, Japan’s Martian Moons eXploration mission

MMX launches in 2024 to study Mars' moons and return samples from Phobos to Earth in 2029.

ESCAPADE

The NASA-funded Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (ESCAPADE) mission will launch in 2024. It consists of twin Mars orbiters that will answer deep questions about how the Red Planet's formerly thick atmosphere has been stripped away by solar radiation over time.

ExoMars rover

The European Space Agency and Russian space agency planned to send a joint mission to Mars in September 2022. It has since been suspended after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mars Sample Return, an international project to bring Mars to Earth

Despite advances in space technology, certain science questions, including whether or not a Mars rock contains signs of ancient life, can only be answered in Earth-based laboratories.

Phobos-Grunt

Russia's Phobos-Grunt sample return mission never left orbit due to a rocket failure, and eventually reentered Earth's atmosphere and crashed into the southern Pacific ocean. It was carrying The Planetary Society's LIFE experiment.

Rosetta and Philae

The European Space Agency's Rosetta and Philae spacecraft flew by Mars on 25 February 2007 on its way to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Phoenix

NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed near Mars' north pole to study the water ice found close to the surface there. Its arm dug trenches into the soil and delivered samples to sophisticated chemical analysis instruments. It carried The Planetary Society's Visions of Mars DVD.

Mars Exploration Rovers

The twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity, were robot field geologists. They confirmed liquid water once flowed across the Martian surface. Both long outlasted their planned 90-day lifetimes. Following their landings on 3 and 24 January 2004, Spirit drove 7.73 kilometers and worked for 2210 sols (Martian days), until 22 March 2010. Opportunity drove 45.16 kilometers and worked for at least 5111 sols; the rover stopped responding on 10 June 2018, and the mission was declared over on 13 February 2019.

Mars Polar Lander

NASA's Mars Polar Lander would have studied a region near Mars' south pole. It crash-landed, carrying The Planetary Society’s Mars Microphone, the first crowdfunded science instrument to fly to another planet.

Nozomi

Originally scheduled to arrive at Mars in October 1999, Nozomi failed to gain enough speed during an Earth flyby on December 21, 1998. The spacecraft also used much more fuel than predicted. A looping trajectory was developed, including two more Earth flybys, to return Nozomi to Mars for orbit insertion in December 2003. But on April 21, 2002, a powerful solar flare damaged Nozomi’s computer. As a result, Nozomi’s hydrazine fuel froze during the long interplanetary trek and mission controllers were unable to place it into orbit. Nozomi flew by Mars in 2003 at a distance of 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), and is now in a 2-year orbit around the Sun.

Mars Climate Orbiter

Failed Mars orbiter (NASA)

Launch: December 11, 1998

Mars Climate Orbiter was lost on September 23, 1999, when a mathematical conversion error placed the spacecraft too close to Mars at the time of orbital insertion. Mars Climate Orbiter carried a few re-flown instruments from Mars Observer, marking the second failures for those experiments.

Mars Pathfinder & Sojourner

Successful Mars lander & rover (NASA)

Launch: December 4, 1996
Mars arrival: July 4, 1997

Mars Pathfinder’s airbag-assisted landing was the first successful mission to the Martian surface since Viking, 20 years earlier. The landing site was near the mouth of Ares Vallis, at 19.33°N, 33.55°W. On July 6, 1997, the six-wheeled rover, named Sojourner in a Planetary Society-run contest, rolled off a ramp and onto the Martian surface. The lander, now named the Sagan Memorial Station for The Planetary Society's co-founder Carl Sagan, returned many images as well as weather data. The original mission was scheduled to last for 30 days, but the lander and Sojourner continued to transmit data until September 27, 1997 when contact with the lander was lost.

Mars 96

Failed Mars orbiter, lander, and 2 penetrators (Russian Space Agency)

Launch: November 16, 1996

The rocket carrying the spacecraft launched successfully, but its fourth stage ignited prematurely and sent the spacecraft crashing into the ocean. Several of the science instruments originally built for Mars 96 were later flown on ESA’s Mars Express.

Mars Global Surveyor

Highly successful orbiter (NASA)

Launch: November 7, 1996
Mars arrival: September 12, 1997
Contact lost: November 5, 2006

Mars Global Surveyor was the first completely successful Mars orbiter since Viking 1 shut down in 1980. The start of Mars Global Surveyor’s science mission was delayed due to a problem with one of its solar panels that caused its aerobraking period to last for a year and a half. Once science operations began in March 1999, Mars Global Surveyor provided scientists with a wealth of images and data, including the highest-resolution images yet achieved from orbit. Many of the Mars Observer instruments were re-flown on Mars Global Surveyor.

Mars Observer

Launched in 1992, Mars Observer was designed to study the Red Planet from orbit. On August 21, 1993, only three days away from Mars, all contact with the spacecraft was suddenly lost. It is possible that Mars Observer followed its onboard program and is in orbit around Mars. However, the results of failure investigations suggest that a fuel line ruptured during tank pressurization, which would have caused the spacecraft to spin uncontrollably and fail to enter orbit. Most of the science instruments that were originally built for Mars Observer were eventually “re-flown” on subsequent orbiters.

Phobos 2

Mostly failed Mars orbiter & 2 Phobos landers

Launch: July 12, 1988
Mars arrival: January 29, 1989

Phobos 2 was designed to orbit Mars and land a "hopper" and a lander on the surface of Phobos. The spacecraft successfully went into orbit and began sending back preliminary data. Then, on March 27, 1989, just before the spacecraft was to move within 50 meters of Phobos and deploy the two landers, the spacecraft's onboard computer malfunctioned and the mission was lost.

Phobos 1

Failed Mars orbiter (USSR)

Launch: July 7, 1988

Phobos 1 was designed to study the Sun and interplanetary space while on its way to Mars. Once in orbit around Mars, it was going to study the Red Planet and take close-up images of its moon Phobos. However, on September 2, 1988, only two months in to the flight, controllers on the ground accidentally uploaded software containing a command that deactivated the spacecraft's attitude control thrusters. The spacecraft then turned its solar panels away from the Sun and was unable to recharge its batteries. As a result, the mission was lost.

Viking 1 and 2, NASA’s first Mars landers

No one knew what the surface of Mars looked like up close until NASA's Viking 1 spacecraft landed there in 1976.

Mars 7

Failed descent attempt

Launch: August 9, 1973

The Mars 7 lander separated too early, causing it to miss the planet by 1,300 kilometers (800 miles).

Mars 6

Slightly successful descent craft and flyby

Launch: August 5, 1973
Mars arrival: March 12, 1974

The Mars 6 descent craft separated successfully from the main spacecraft and descended through the atmosphere, transmitting 224 seconds of data before abruptly cutting off (either when the retrorockets fired or when it slammed into the ground). Although this was the first data of its kind (from within the Martian atmosphere), most of it was garbled and unusable due to the microchip problem. Mars 6 landed at 23.90°S, 19.42°W.

Mars 5

Initially successful Mars orbiter, failed after 22 days

Launch: July 25, 1973
Mars arrival: February 12, 1974

Mars 5 entered orbit successfully, but after completing 22 orbits and returning 60 images the spacecraft malfunctioned and the mission ended.

Mars 4

Failed Mars orbiter attempt (successful as a flyby) (USSR)

Launch: July 21, 1973
Mars flyby: February 10, 1974

The microchip problem caused the failure of the Mars 4 orbiter to fire its orbit insertion rockets. It flew by Mars at a distance of 2,200 kilometers (1,370 miles), taking one set of images and collecting limited data. It continued to function after the flyby, returning data from solar orbit.

Mars 2 and Mars 3

The identical Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3 spacecraft, launched in 1971, each released descent craft 4.5 hours prior to their arrivals at Mars. But the landers had the misfortune of arriving at Mars during one of the greatest dust storms in recorded history. The Mars 2 probe descended at a steeper angle and faster rate than intended and crashed. However, the Mars 3 probe successfully soft-landed near 45°S, 158°W. It operated for 20 seconds on the surface before mysteriously failing, possibly because it was blown over by the wind. Before failing, Mars 3 may have deployed the first tiny rover onto the surface of Mars. The Mars 2 orbiter was successfully placed in an 18-hour orbit, where in it completed 362 orbits. The Mars 3 orbiter, short on fuel, ended up in an almost 13-day orbit. Both spacecraft were shut down on August 22, 1972. Together, Mars 2 & 3 returned 60 images of Mars, recorded temperatures, produced surface relief maps and studied the Martian gravity and magnetic fields.

Mariner 9

In 1971, Mariner 9 was the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. However, excitement for its arrival was subdued by a dark cloud—literally. A Martian dust storm, which had started in late September 1971, had grown to cover most of the planet. Mission scientists had to wait about a month and a half until the dust settled before they could begin the science portion of the mission. Mariner 9 took a total of 7,329 images of Mars, studied its atmospheric and surface as well as the planet's gravity and topography. The spacecraft also provided scientists with the first close-up views of Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars.

Kosmos 419

Failed Mars orbiter attempt (USSR)

Launch: May 10, 1971

Kosmos 419 reached Earth orbit, but its fourth stage rocket, which would have sent the spacecraft on its way to Mars, failed to ignite. The spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere and was destroyed.

Mariner 8

Failed Mars flyby attempt (NASA)

Launch: May 8, 1971

Mariner 8, a twin to the successful Mariner 9, failed to reach Earth orbit.

Mars 1969A and Mars 1969B

The rockets carrying each spacecraft failed shortly after launch, thereby ending the mission before any of the spacecraft could get to Earth orbit.

Mariner 6 and Mariner 7

Mariner 6 and 7 were identical spacecraft arriving at Mars five days apart in 1969. Mariner 6 flew by Mars at an altitude of 3,431 kilometers (2,131 miles) and Mariner 7 at 3,430 kilometers (2,131 miles). Mariner 6 returned 75 images, and Mariner 7 126 images. Data from the twin spacecraft helped establish the mass, radius, and shape of Mars and revealed that its southern polar ice cap was composed of carbon dioxide. The spacecraft are now in solar orbits.

Zond 2

Failed Mars flyby and descent craft attempt (USSR)

Launch: November 30, 1964

Controllers lost contact with Zond 2 after a mid-course correction maneuver while the spacecraft was on its way to Mars. The spacecraft is now in a solar orbit.

Mariner 4

Successful Mars flyby (NASA)

Launch: November 28, 1964

Mars flyby: July 14, 1965

Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to fly by Mars and obtain close-up pictures of the Red Planet, passing within 9,844 kilometers (6,117 miles) of Mars. It then took four days to transmit the data back to Earth. Mariner 4 imaged a large, ancient crater on Mars and confirmed the existence of a thin Martian atmosphere composed largely of carbon dioxide.

Mariner 3

Failed Mars flyby attempt (NASA)

Launch: November 5, 1964

A shield that was designed to protect Mariner 3's instruments during launch failed to release once the spacecraft had reached Earth orbit. With its instruments covered and the extra weight of the shield dragging it down, the spacecraft was unable to obtain the necessary trajectory to send it on to Mars. The spacecraft is now in a solar orbit.

Mars 1 (Sputnik 23)

Failed Mars flyby attempt (USSR)

Launch: November 1, 1962

Mars 1 launched successfully and began the trip to Mars, returning data on interplanetary space. However, controllers lost contact with Mars 1 on March 21, 1963, when the spacecraft was 107 million kilometers (66 million miles) from Earth when signal was lost. The spacecraft is now in a solar orbit.

Korabl 11 (Sputnik 22) and Korabl 13 (Sputnik 24)

Launched in 1962, the Soviet spacecraft Korabl 11 and 13 both broke apart after reaching Earth orbit.

Korabl 4 (Marsnik 1) and Korabl 5 (Marsnik 2)

Launched in 1960, Korabl 4 and 5 were the Soviet Union's first attempts at interplanetary probes. The third stage of both launch vehicles failed, and neither obtained Earth orbit.