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The Race to Mars 1965 1969 1971-72 1973-74 1976 1988 1993 1996 1997 1999 2001 2003-04 2005 Milestones in exploration

Click on the years below to follow the race to Mars...


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Image of the largest volcano on Mars, Olympus Mons, taken by Mariner 9
1971-72

Nasa's Mariner 8 falls into the ocean off Puerto Rico shortly after launch in 1971.

Later in the year, Mariner 9 becomes the first space craft to orbit Mars. It sends back close-up pictures of giant volcanoes, canyons and ancient riverbeds.

The Soviet Union has its first Mars successes with Mars 2 and Mars 3. They fly around the planet compiling data on the harsh Martian atmosphere.

The Mars 3 space craft releases a descent module which crash lands on the Martian surface, carrying the Soviet Union insignia.

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