A Timeline of Human Exploration and Understanding of Mars

  • 700 BCE

    Greek and Roman understanding of Mars

    Greek and Roman understanding of Mars
    Greek and Romans observed mars as the fiery red star and correlated the planet to their mythology and god of War, Mars (Greek: Ares). It was also said that the Romans and Greek observed the star like the Egyptians, which laid out the basic understanding of the red planet for hundreds of years to come. I included this image, although being out of the specified era because I felt like it’s a very nice contrast to see that much earlier civilizations correlated Mars with a much different depiction.
  • Period: to

    Early exploration

    This period would be best grouped under the very first geographical exploration of Mas. Using early telescopes and handmade speculative drawings to better understand the surface, this period of Martian exploration became the basis for better understanding and exploring the red planet using new technological advances for the upcoming decades.
  • Johann von Maedler and Wilhelm make a global map drawing of Mars

    Johann von Maedler and Wilhelm make a global map drawing of Mars
    helping them conclude a rotational period of mars, which has been impressively proven to be only a second off from the new rotational period conclusion.
  • Jesuit Monk Angelo Secchi draws a more detailed and geographical map of Mars

    Jesuit Monk Angelo Secchi draws a more detailed and geographical map of Mars
    leading to a better understanding of what the surface may look like.
  • Camille Flammarion Mercator's projected a map of the Mars surface

    Camille Flammarion Mercator's projected a map of the Mars surface
  • Giovanni Sciaparelli colored projected map of Mars

    Giovanni Sciaparelli colored projected map of Mars
  • Percival Lowell's Martian Canal drawings

    Percival Lowell's Martian Canal drawings
    helping to speculate the surface of Mars in greater detail.
  • Earl C. Slipher season images

    Earl C. Slipher season images
    Starting from 1907, seasonal images of Mars using newer and more advanced telescopes were put together
  • Mariner 4

    Mariner 4
    flies by Mars capturing 21 photos disproving the speculation of highly intelligent Martian life. This was a big step into Mars exploration as it shifted the focus towards finding more basic organisms on the dry planet.
  • The very first close-up image ever taken of Mars from Mariner 4. This was the very first step towards close-up imaging and exploration of Mars.

    The very first close-up image ever taken of Mars from Mariner 4. This was the very first step towards close-up imaging and exploration of Mars.
  • Composite shaded map of Mars from Mariner 4 as it flew over the Elysium Planitia region on Mars

    Composite shaded map of Mars from Mariner 4 as it flew over the Elysium Planitia region on Mars
  • Mariner 7 captures higher quality images of Mars,

    Mariner 7 captures higher quality images of Mars,
    which were collaged together to include a one of the early global colored views of Mars
  • NASA's Viking Program

    led the first two man-made vehicles to come in contact with the surface of Mars, Viking 1 and Viking 2 landers. The program also launched the Viking orbiters, which helped push the understanding of Mars atmosphere and uninhabitable conditions if Mars. The Viking program helped move away from the emphasis of finding Martian life as well. The Viking program was also the prominent program that led to a boom in expeditions and heavy changes towards design of man-made vehicles made for exploration.
  • Viking 1, first man-made vehicle to reach Martian surface, which also produced first on the ground imaging of mars.

    Viking 1, first man-made vehicle to reach Martian surface, which also produced first on the ground imaging of mars.
  • Viking Lander 1 image of Mars Surface with its American flag perfectly in shot

    Viking Lander 1 image of Mars Surface with its American flag perfectly in shot
  • Viking Orbiter 1 image with much higher quality of Mars from orbit, one of the first images that began to change the understanding of Mars’ true colors and atmosphere

    Viking Orbiter 1 image with much higher quality of Mars from orbit, one of the first images that began to change the understanding of Mars’ true colors and atmosphere
  • Viking Lander images of ice forming on Mars’ surface, pushing forward the exploration of simplistic forms of life on Mars.

    Viking Lander images of ice forming on Mars’ surface, pushing forward the exploration of simplistic forms of life on Mars.
  • NASA's Pathfinder Mission

    NASA’s Pathfinder mission was designed on the basis of demonstrating new ways to deliver landers and the first ever Martian rover to the surface of Mars. The Pathfinder mission also included the Sojourner Rover, which carried various instruments to help navigate and analyze the surface of Mars to form a better understanding of the planet as NASA began moving away from the focus of trying to find signs of life.
  • NASA’s first Mars rover, Sojourner, as seen from Pathfinder.

    NASA’s first Mars rover, Sojourner, as seen from Pathfinder.
    This little 23lb rover ended up retrieving 550 images and more than 15 chemical analyses of the Martian soil and rocks.
  • The Pathfinder as seen from the Sojourner Rover

    The Pathfinder as seen from the Sojourner Rover
  • Surface of Mars as seen from the Sojourner Rover using its Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer

    Surface of Mars as seen from the Sojourner Rover using its Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer
  • The Mars Odyssey Spacecraft

    The longest running NASA spacecraft at Mars, but also arguably the most important spacecraft for the 21st century exploration of Mars. The Odyssey’s mission was to create a global map of Mars, which focused on chemical elements and minerals of the surface. The Odyssey completed its mission, which was very impactful. By creating such a global mapping, future NASA expeditions could focus better on certain parts of the surface to better explore and enhance our understanding of the red planet.
  • Odyssey orbital image of a portion Arsia Mons volcano

    Odyssey orbital image of a portion Arsia Mons volcano
  • Odyssey orbital closer image of Rabe Crater

    Odyssey orbital closer image of Rabe Crater
  • Odyssey orbital image of Rabe Crater.

    Odyssey orbital image of Rabe Crater.
  • Odyssey image of the Arsia Mons volcano

    Odyssey image of the Arsia Mons volcano
    A volcano almost 4 times the diameter of Earth’s largest volcano, Muana Loa
  • Spirit and Opportunity Rovers change the game

    Spirit and Opportunity Rovers change the game
    The much more efficient and mobile rovers, Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars. These rovers were part of the spearheading of better Mars surface exploration. These two rovers were also the stepping stone for the famous Curiosity rover, which was launched in 2011 and changed the game of surface exploration on Mars. These 21st century Rovers are what really pushed NASA forward towards getting a better understanding of the surface of Mars and the capability of one day having humans on Mars.
  • The first color image of Mars taken by Spirit

  • Mera Bonneville Crater as seen through Spirit’s panoramic camera

    Mera Bonneville Crater as seen through Spirit’s panoramic camera
  • Spirit’s landing site as seen through its front camera

    Spirit’s landing site as seen through its front camera
  • Opportunity’s Right Panoramic Camera view of the surface on its way to the Meridiani Planum

    Opportunity’s Right Panoramic Camera view of the surface on its way to the Meridiani Planum
  • Opportunity on it's to Meridani Planum

    Opportunity on it's to Meridani Planum
  • Phoenix Lander view of Mar's arctic plains

    Phoenix Lander view of Mar's arctic plains
  • Orbital view of Curiosity's decent

    Orbital view of Curiosity's decent
  • Circular hole drilled in rock target, "Cumberland" by Curiosity

    Circular hole drilled in rock target, "Cumberland" by Curiosity
  • Opportunity overlooking Marathon Valley

    Opportunity overlooking Marathon Valley
  • Curiosity distant view of Mount Sharp

    Curiosity distant view of Mount Sharp
  • Curiosity image of 'Ireson Hill' on Mount Sharp

    Curiosity image of 'Ireson Hill' on Mount Sharp
  • Demonstration of Curiosity's special camera filters to distinguish certain minerals in target rocks

  • Time Lapse Footage of Curiosity (2012-2017)

  • Opportunity Rover looking at Endeavour Crater

    Opportunity Rover looking at Endeavour Crater
  • Martian Dust Devils video