The history of the discovery and exploration of Mars: from ancient astronomers to modern missions

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Mars is one of the most mysterious and attractive planets in the solar system. It is called the Red Planet because of its rusty color caused by iron oxide on the surface. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second largest after Mercury. Its diameter is about 6800 km, which is about 2 times less than that of the Earth. Mars has 2 small satellites – Phobos and Deimos, which are similar to asteroids.

Humanity has always been interested in Mars, since it is the closest planet to Earth on which life could potentially exist. Mars was known to ancient civilizations, who observed it with the naked eye and gave it different names. Over time, astronomers have improved their instruments and methods for exploring Mars, discovering more and more of its secrets. In this article we will talk about how the discovery and study of Mars took place from antiquity to the present day.

 

Discovery of the planet Mars

Formation and age of planet Mars

According to modern scientific data, the planet Mars was formed about 4,6 billion years ago as a result of the compression of cosmic dust and gas around the Sun. This process is called accretion and it led to the formation of all the planets in the solar system.

Mars, like the Earth, has undergone many collisions with other bodies, which influenced its shape, structure and climate. One such collision, which occurred about 4,1 billion years ago, created the enormous Borealis crater, which occupies almost half of Mars' northern hemisphere. Another collision, about 4 billion years ago, released volcanic material that formed the tallest mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Its height reaches 22 km, which is 3 times more than Everest.

 

Origin of the name of the planet Mars

The planet Mars was named after the Roman god of war, as its red color was associated with blood and battle. The ancient Greeks called this planet Ares, after their god of war. Other peoples also gave Mars different names related to its color or character. For example, the Egyptians called him Ger-desher, which means “red”, the Babylonians – Nergal, which means “god of fire and destruction”, the Hindus – Angaraka, which means “fiery”, the Chinese – Huohsin, which means “fiery star”.

 

Date of the first telescopic observation of Mars

The first telescopic observation of Mars was made by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610. He used his homemade telescope, which allowed him to magnify objects 20 times. Galileo noticed that Mars has phases, like the Moon, that is, it changes its shape depending on its position relative to the Sun and Earth.

 

Orbital position of the planet Mars

The planet Mars is located at a distance of about 228 million kilometers from the Sun and has an average orbital speed of about 24 km/s. Its orbit is elliptical, so the distance between Mars and the Sun varies throughout the year. The minimum distance, called perihelion, is about 207 million kilometers, and the maximum, called aphelion, is about 249 million kilometers. The orbital period of Mars, that is, the time during which it makes one revolution around the Sun, is equal to 687 Earth days, which is almost two Earth years.

 

Visibility of the planet Mars in the night sky

The planet Mars is one of the brightest objects in the night sky. Its visibility depends on its position relative to the Earth and the Sun. When Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun, it reaches its maximum brilliance and is called opposition Mars. At this time it is visible all night and has a yellow-orange color. When Mars is on the same side as the Sun, it is called conjunct Mars and is almost invisible as it merges with the sunlight. At this time it has a pale pink color. Mars opposition occurs approximately once every 26 months, and conjunction occurs approximately once every 15 months.

The history of the discovery and exploration of Mars: from ancient astronomers to modern missions

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Exploration of Mars in the 17th–18th centuries

The first telescopic observations of Mars in antiquity and the Middle Ages

Although Mars was known to ancient civilizations, telescopic observations of Mars only began in the 17th century, when the telescope was invented. Before this, astronomers observed Mars with the naked eye and recorded its movement across the starry sky. They compiled catalogs and tables of the position of Mars, which were used for astrology and the calendar. For example, the ancient Babylonians observed Mars from the 7th century BC and created the first mathematical model of its movement.

Ancient Greeks such as Ptolemy, Aristotle and Hipparchus also studied Mars and tried to explain its retrograde motion, that is, its apparent backward movement across the starry sky. They proposed that Mars moved in small circles, called epicycles, around larger circles, called deferents, which in turn revolved around the Earth. This model was called geocentric and it dominated astronomy until the 16th century.

 

Discoveries of Galileo Galilei

The first astronomer to use a telescope to observe Mars was Galileo Galilei. He made his first observation in 1610 and noted that Mars has phases, just like the Moon. This was an important discovery because it supported the heliocentric model of the solar system proposed by Nicolaus Copernicus, in which the planets revolve around the Sun rather than the Earth.

Galileo also tried to measure the size and distance of Mars, but his results were inaccurate due to the poor quality of his telescope and the difficulty of determining parallax, that is, the angular displacement of the planet when observed from different points on Earth. Galileo continued to observe Mars until 1638, when he lost his sight.

 

Discoveries of other astronomers (Jan Hevelius, Giovanni Cassini)

After Galileo, other astronomers also used telescopes to explore Mars and made new discoveries. For example, the Dutch astronomer Jan Hevelius made the first detailed map of Mars in 1659, on which he outlined dark and light areas on the planet's surface. He also gave them names related to the geography of the Earth, such as Arabia, Libya, Syria, etc. He also measured the period of rotation of Mars on its axis, which is 24 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds. This value is very close to the modern one, which is 24 hours 37 minutes and 23 seconds.

Another important astronomer who studied Mars was the Italian Giovanni Cassini. He discovered in 1666 that Mars has an axis tilt of about 25 degrees. This means that Mars has seasons just like Earth, but they are longer due to the longer orbital period. Cassini also determined the distance between Mars and Earth using parallax and obtained a value of about 140 million kilometers, which is twice that of Galileo.

The history of the discovery and exploration of Mars: from ancient astronomers to modern missions

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Exploration of Mars in the 19th century

Discovery of Martian satellites

One of the most significant discoveries in the history of Mars exploration was the discovery of its two satellites – Phobos and Deimos. This discovery was made by American astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877 using a 66-centimeter refractor, which was located at the Washington Observatory.

Hall searched for the moons of Mars after French astronomer Camille Flammarion suggested they might exist. Hall named the moons after the sons of Mars in Greek mythology – Phobos, the god of fear, and Deimos, the god of terror.

Phobos is the closest satellite to Mars, its distance from the planet is about 6000 km, and its diameter is about 22 km. Deimos is further from Mars, its distance from the planet is about 20,000 km, and its diameter is about 12 km. Both moons are irregularly shaped and resemble asteroids. They revolve around Mars faster than the planet on its axis, so they rise and set in the sky twice a day.

 

Detecting channels on Mars

Another famous discovery in the 19th century was the discovery of canals on Mars. This discovery was made by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877 when he observed Mars during its opposition. Schiaparelli saw thin lines on the surface of Mars, which he called “channels” (Italian canali), which means “grooves” or “streams”. He suggested that these could be natural or artificial water flows, which indicate the presence of life on the planet.

Schiaparelli compiled a map of Mars, on which he marked about 40 channels, giving them names associated with mythology and history, such as Ganges, Nile, Pharaoh, Eridanus, etc.

His discovery caused great interest and controversy in the scientific world. Many astronomers have tried to confirm or deny the existence of canals on Mars, but not everyone could see them due to the low resolution of their telescopes or atmospheric interference.

One of the most famous proponents of the canal theory was the American astronomer Percival Lowell, who in 1894 founded his own observatory in Arizona specifically to study Mars. He observed Mars for 15 years and drew more than 500 canals, which he considered evidence of the existence of an advanced civilization on the planet. He also wrote several books describing his theories and fantasies about Martians building canals to irrigate their arid lands. His books became popular and inspired many science fiction writers such as H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and others.

However, in the 20th century, the theory of canals on Mars was disproved by more advanced telescopes and spacecraft, which found no trace of water or life on the planet. It turned out that the channels were an illusion caused by optical distortions, psychological factors and a lack of knowledge about the topography of Mars. In reality, the surface of Mars only has natural landforms such as valleys, channels, ridges and volcanoes, which can give the appearance of linear structures at low resolution.

 

Publication of the first map of Mars

In 1877, the same year that Schiaparelli discovered canals on Mars, the first map of Mars based on telescopic observations was published. This map was compiled by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion, who was a proponent of the theory of canals and life on Mars. He used data obtained from Schiaparelli and other astronomers and drew a map showing the location of channels, seas, continents and islands on Mars. He also gave them names related to mythology, history and literature, such as Atlantis, Eden, Utopia, El Dorado, etc.

His map was widely circulated and influenced public opinion about Mars. However, his map was also inaccurate and fantastic, since he did not take into account the real relief and climate of the planet. For example, he depicted large expanses of water on Mars that actually do not exist, and assigned them colors that do not correspond to reality. His map was soon refuted by more accurate maps compiled by other astronomers such as Eugene Michel Antoniadi, Edward Emerson Barnard and William Wallace Campbell.

 

Other discoveries of astronomers

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, astronomers continued to study Mars and make new discoveries. For example, in 1892, American astronomer William Henry Pickering discovered that Mars has an atmosphere that consists mainly of carbon dioxide. He also measured the atmospheric pressure on Mars, which is about 6 millibars, 160 times less than on Earth.

In 1909, American astronomer Carl Lamont discovered that Mars has polar caps that change size depending on the season. He suggested that they consisted of ice and snow, but it was later determined that they also contained dry ice, that is, frozen carbon dioxide.

In 1911, American astronomer Vinello Sleifer discovered that Mars has its own magnetic field, which, however, is very weak and unable to protect the planet from the solar wind.

In 1924, American astronomer John Adam Fleming discovered that Mars emits radio waves that can be detected on Earth. He suggested that this could be due to electrical activity in the Martian atmosphere or possible signals from a Martian civilization. However, it was later found that radio waves originate from thermal radiation from the surface of Mars and do not carry any information.

The history of the discovery and exploration of Mars: from ancient astronomers to modern missions

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Exploration of Mars in the 20th century

Exploring Mars using a spectrometer

In the 20th century, astronomers began using new methods and instruments to explore Mars, which allowed them to obtain more accurate and detailed information about the planet. One such instrument was the spectrometer, which measures the spectrum of light reflected or emitted by an object. The spectrum of light contains information about the chemical composition, temperature, pressure and other properties of the object.

Using a spectrometer, astronomers were able to determine that there is no free oxygen, water or organic matter on Mars, indicating that it is unsuitable for life. They were also able to identify the presence on Mars of elements such as iron, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, calcium, sodium, etc.

Astronomers have also discovered that Mars has an ozone layer that absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun, but it is very thin and ineffective.

Spectrometry also made it possible to study the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere, its temperature, pressure, winds, clouds, dust storms and other phenomena.

 

First attempts to reach Mars

In the 20th century, not only astronomers, but also scientists, engineers and researchers became interested in Mars and tried to reach it using spacecraft. The first attempts were made in the 1960s, when the Soviet Union and the United States of America launched several interplanetary probes that were supposed to fly to Mars and take photographs, measurements and analyzes of it. However, most of these missions ended in failure due to various technical problems such as breakdowns, loss of communication, deviation from course, etc.

For example, of the 10 Soviet interplanetary stations launched between 1960 and 1964, only one, Mars-1, was able to enter the flight path to Mars, but lost contact with Earth at a distance of 106 million kilometers from the planet.

Of the 7 American interplanetary probes launched between 1964 and 1969, only two, Mariner 4 and Mariner 6, were able to reach Mars and take pictures of it, but they were of poor quality and did not provide much information about the planet.

American interplanetary station Mariner 4

American interplanetary station Mariner 4 | wikipedia.org

 

First successful mission to Mars

The first successful mission to Mars was the American interplanetary station Mariner 7, launched on March 27, 1969 and reaching Mars on August 5, 1969. She took 126 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its craters, ridges, valleys and polar caps. The temperature, pressure, density and composition of the Martian atmosphere were also measured, and the presence of water vapor and carbon dioxide in it was discovered.

This mission determined the mass, radius and gravity of Mars, as well as its magnetic field and radio emissions. Her data helped clarify knowledge about Mars and refuted some myths and fantasies about the planet. For example, she showed that there are no canals, seas, vegetation or living creatures on Mars, but only a dry, cold and lifeless desert. It also showed that Mars is not like the Earth, but rather like the Moon, as it has many meteorite craters and does not have a global magnetic field.

The Mariner 7 mission was a major step in Mars exploration and paved the way for more complex and advanced missions in the future.

American interplanetary station Mariner 7

American interplanetary station Mariner 7 | wikipedia.org

 

Mars exploration using automatic interplanetary stations

The 1970s ushered in a new era in Mars exploration, with the launch of the first automated interplanetary probes that not only flew past Mars, but also entered its orbit and landed on its surface. These stations made it possible to obtain more detailed and high-quality images of Mars, as well as conduct various scientific experiments and research.

Among these stations were the Soviet Mars-2, Mars-3, Mars-5, Mars-6 and Mars-7, the American Mariner 9, Viking 1, Viking 2, etc. They made many discoveries and achievements, which we will discuss later.

 

Soviet stations Mars-2 and Mars-3

Mars 2 and Mars 3 became the first stations to reach Mars orbit in 1971. They took more than 60 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its topography, geology, climate and atmosphere. They also launched landers, which became the first objects to reach the surface of Mars.

However, Mars 2 lost contact on landing and crashed, and Mars 3 only spent 20 seconds on the surface of Mars before losing contact. They were unable to transmit any data from the surface of Mars, except for one fuzzy image.

Soviet automatic interplanetary station Mars-3

Soviet automatic interplanetary station Mars-3 | wikimedia.org

 

American automatic interplanetary station Mariner 9

Mariner 9 became the first American probe to reach Mars orbit in 1971. He took more than 7000 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its diversity and complexity.

His images show huge volcanic formations (such as Olympus Mons, the largest volcano discovered in the solar system) and canyons (including Valles Marineris, a giant canyon system over 4000 kilometers long, named after the scientific achievements of this interplanetary station). The images also show dried river beds, craters, signs of wind and water erosion and displacement of layers, weather fronts, fog and many more interesting details.

Mariner 9 also studied the atmosphere of Mars, its composition, temperature, pressure, clouds, dust storms, etc. It was discovered that Mars has two types of polar caps: permanent, consisting of dry ice, and seasonal, consisting of water ice and snow.

American automatic interplanetary station Mariner 9

American automatic interplanetary station Mariner 9 | wikimedia.org

 

Viking program

This space program included the launch of two identical American spacecraft, Viking 1 and Viking 2. They became the most successful and advanced space stations, reaching the orbit and surface of Mars in 1976. They took more than 50,000 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its detailed patterns and colors. They were the first to transmit high-quality color photographs from the surface of Mars. They show a desert area with reddish soil, strewn with stones. The sky was pink due to light scattered by red dust particles in the atmosphere.

Viking 1 and Viking 2 also launched landers, which became the first objects to successfully land on the surface of Mars and operate on it for several years. They transmitted more than 1400 images from the surface of Mars that showed its landscape, vegetation, weather, and more.

These devices conducted several scientific experiments, including the search for life on Mars. They measured the chemistry of soil, air and water on Mars, and also detected the presence of organic molecules, but could not find any signs of living organisms. Seismic activity, magnetic field, radiation, etc. were studied.

Viking 1 and Viking 2 greatly expanded knowledge of Mars and stimulated further exploration of the planet.

American astronomer Carl Sagan at the Viking lander model

American astronomer Carl Sagan at a model of the Viking lander | wikimedia.org

 

Exploration of Mars in the 21th century

Mars exploration using rovers

At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, Mars exploration reached a new level when the first rovers were launched, which could move on the surface of Mars and explore various places and objects. These rovers were equipped with various scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, lasers, drills, microscopes, etc. They could also communicate with the Earth and transmit their data and images.

Among these rovers were the American Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance, etc. They made many discoveries and achievements, which we will briefly talk about now.

 

Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity

Spirit and Opportunity became the first American rovers to reach the surface of Mars in 2004. They landed in different places on Mars and explored them for several years. They took more than 300,000 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its diverse landscape.

The rovers discovered traces of water, minerals, meteorites, volcanic activity, etc. On Mars. They studied the climate, weather, magnetic field and radiation on Mars. They also collected and analyzed samples of soil and rocks on Mars, and performed several scientific experiments.

Spirit and Opportunity are the same model of Mars rovers. They lasted much longer than planned, thanks to the natural winds on Mars cleaning the solar panels. These rovers greatly increased knowledge of Mars and became the longest-lived and most successful rovers in history.

On May 1, 2009, the Spirit rover got stuck in a sand dune. This was not the first such situation with the rovers, and over the next eight months, work was carried out to free him. On January 26, 2010, NASA announced that the rover's release was hampered by its location in soft ground. Until March 22, 2010, the rover continued to be used as a stationary platform, after which communication with it ceased. On May 24, 2011, NASA announced that efforts to restore contact with the rover had failed and it remained silent. The farewell ceremony for the Spirit rover took place at NASA headquarters and was broadcast on NASA TV. Spirit worked on Mars for 6 years and 2 months, which is 21,6 times longer than planned.

The Opportunity rover traveled more than 45 kilometers during its stay on Mars, all this time receiving energy only from solar panels. On June 12, 2018, the rover went into sleep mode due to a long and powerful dust storm that prevented light from reaching the solar panels. Since then he has not been in touch again. On February 13, 2019, NASA officially announced the end of the rover's mission. Opportunity operated on Mars for 14 years and 8 months, exceeding its planned service life 55 times.

Mars rover Spirit or Opportunity

Mars rover Spirit or Opportunity | wikimedia.org

 

Rover Curiosity

Curiosity became the largest and most complex American rover to reach the surface of Mars in 2012. He landed in Gale Crater and is still exploring it. He took more than 500,000 images of the surface of Mars, which revealed its detailed patterns and colors.

Curiosity is an autonomous chemistry laboratory several times larger and heavier than previous Mars rovers. He discovered traces of organic molecules on Mars that may be related to the origin of life. He also measured the chemical composition, temperature, pressure, humidity and other parameters of the Martian atmosphere. He studied geology, geochemistry, mineralogy, hydrology, etc. The rover collected and analyzed soil and rock samples on Mars and also did several scientific experiments.

Curiosity became the first rover to take a self-portrait (selfie) on Mars, as well as the first rover to record sound on Mars. It continues to explore Mars and transmit its data and images to Earth.

Self-portrait taken by the Curiosity rover camera

Self-portrait taken by the Curiosity rover camera | wikimedia.org

Models of all successful Mars rovers in comparison: Sojourner, Spirit/Opportunity, Curiosity

Models of all successful Mars rovers in comparison: Sojourner (smallest), Spirit/Opportunity (medium), Curiosity (largest) | wikimedia.org

 

Perseverance rover

Perseverance became the newest and most advanced American rover to reach the surface of Mars in 2021. He landed in Jezero Crater and is currently exploring it. He took many photographs of the surface of Mars and conducted reconnaissance operations. As of January 2024, the rover had covered more than 40 km.

Perseverance became the first rover to bring the Ingenuity helicopter to Mars, which became the first aircraft to fly on another planet. It also became the first rover to make video recordings on Mars, as well as the first rover to make an audio recording of winds on Mars. It continues to explore Mars and transmit its data and images to Earth.

The Perseverance rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California

The Perseverance Mars rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California | wikimedia.org

 

Mars exploration using orbital stations

In the 21st century, Mars exploration also continues with the help of orbital stations that fly around Mars and take pictures, measurements and analyzes of it. These stations make it possible to obtain a global and dynamic picture of Mars, as well as maintain communication with rovers and helicopters on the surface of the planet. Among these stations are the following:

  • American: 2001 Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN);
  • European: Mars Express, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter;
  • Indian: Mars Orbiter Mission;
  • Emirati: Emirates Mars Mission;
  • Chinese: Tianwen-1.

They made many discoveries and achievements, and now we will briefly talk about some of them.

 

Orbital station "2001 Mars Odyssey"

The 2001 Mars Odyssey became the first American orbital station to reach Mars orbit in 2001. He took more than 300,000 images of the surface of Mars, which showed its topography, mineralogy, thermal inertia, and more.

The station discovered traces of water, ice, hydroxyl and hydrogen peroxide on Mars. She also measured radiation, magnetic field and plasma on Mars.

2001 Mars Odyssey continues to orbit Mars and transmit its data and images to Earth. It is estimated that it will have enough fuel to operate until the end of 2025.

Orbital station 2001 Mars Odyssey

Orbital station "2001 Mars Odyssey" | wikimedia.org

 

Orbital station "Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter"

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter became the most powerful and advanced American orbiter to reach Mars orbit in 2006. He took more than 50 million images of the surface of Mars, which showed a detailed picture of it. This orbiter contains a range of scientific instruments such as cameras, spectrometers, radars, which are used to analyze the terrain, stratigraphy, minerals and ice on Mars.

Research into the weather and surface of Mars, the search for possible landing sites, and the station's new telecommunications system pave the way for future spacecraft.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter telecommunications system transmits more data to Earth than all previous interplanetary probes combined and can serve as a powerful orbital relay for other research programs.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter | wikimedia.org

 

Orbital station "Mars Express"

Mars Express became the first European orbital station to reach Mars orbit in 2003. He took more than 10 million photographs of the surface of Mars, which showed its topography, geology, mineralogy, etc.

With its help, for the first time, the content and distribution maps of water vapor and ozone in the atmosphere were simultaneously measured. The night glow of nitrogen monoxide, known on Venus but not previously observed on Mars, has been detected. Tiny aerosol particles have been discovered that fill the planet's atmosphere to altitudes of 70–100 km. Water ice was first discovered in the southern polar cap at the end of the Martian summer.

Mars Express discovered methane in the atmosphere of Mars, which may indicate the presence of life on the planet (methane cannot remain in the Martian atmosphere for a long time, therefore, its reserves are replenished either as a result of the activity of microorganisms or as a result of geological activity).

The orbital station has discovered dense clouds of dry ice that cast a shadow on the surface of the planet and even affect its climate.

Mars Express orbital station during testing on Earth

Orbital station "Mars Express" during testing on Earth | flickr.com

Mars Express orbital station in space

Orbital station "Mars Express" in space | wikipedia.org

 

Prospects for the exploration of Mars

The exploration of Mars is a long-term and large-scale task that requires great effort, resources and technology. The exploration of Mars involves not only sending people to Mars, but also creating permanent bases, colonies and civilization on this planet. The exploration of Mars has different motives, such as scientific, economic, political, cultural, etc. The exploration of Mars also faces various problems and risks, such as technical, financial, legal, etc.

Currently, the exploration of Mars is one of the main goals and objectives of many countries and organizations that are developing and implementing various plans and projects aimed at achieving this goal. Among these plans and projects, the following are the most ambitious.

 

NASA

NASA is an American space agency that has a long history of exploration and exploration of Mars. NASA has launched many spacecraft, rovers and helicopters to Mars, which have made many discoveries and achievements. NASA is also developing and preparing new missions to Mars, which will be aimed at further studying the planet, as well as preparing for sending the first people to Mars.

NASA plans to send the first astronauts to Mars in the 2030s, as well as create a permanent base on Mars that will serve as a springboard for further exploration of the planet. NASA also collaborates with other countries and organizations, such as the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) and others, as part of international cooperation on the exploration and development of Mars.

 

SpaceX

SpaceX is an American private space company that has great ambitions and plans to explore Mars. SpaceX designs and builds its own rockets, spacecraft and satellites that can carry people and cargo to Mars and back to Earth.

SpaceX is developing and testing its Starship super-heavy rocket system, which should become the main vehicle for the exploration of Mars. SpaceX plans to send the first unmanned missions to Mars in 2024, and the first crewed missions to Mars in 2026. The company also plans to create a large colony on Mars, which will have millions of inhabitants and which will be independent from Earth.

SpaceX is collaborating with NASA and other organizations such as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Australian Space Agency (ASA) on commercial and scientific collaborations to explore and develop Mars.