NASA has reached a major landmark celebrating 20 years of stable Mars exploration that started in 1997. The Independent Day celebrated on July 4 marks NASA’s safe landing of the first robot on the Red Planet. During the celebrations, NASA’s Mars Pathfinder dropped on the Mars an airbag-cushioned device that deployed a mobile robot to commemorate the two decades of continuous Martian explorations.
The space agency has continuously maintained the robotic presence on Mars ever since. They have dispatched extra landers, automated rovers, orbiters and other devices to sample the rocks, examine the weather conditions on the planet, and glance at the world’s warm and wet universe.
NASA’s missions to the Mars have dramatically enabled them to discern many scientific discoveries and breakthroughs including the evidence of presence of liquid water on the Red Planet. The space agency started sending spacecrafts to Mars since 1960s, but there were countless gaps between their missions.
From July 1997, the space agency started sending constant Pathfinder spacecrafts to the Mars planet. There is always one active mission investigating the Red Planet either from orbit or the surface.
The latest rover on the planet is Curiosity Rover which launched on Mars in 2012 and is well-equipped with innovative instruments that allows it to make independent decisions without human input. The rover uses the advanced scientific tools to vaporize and examine rocks from a distance.
According to Mike Watkins, the director of Jet Propulsion Lab at the space agency, Mars is a special planet since it looks more similar to the Earth and has fairly conducive environment that could sustain human life.
Watkins said that the Pathfinder’s landing on the planet has enabled NASA to obtain tangible answers to many fundamental questions about Mars and other new ways of exploring the planets in space.
The continuous missions to the planet have led to more discoveries across the dried-up lakes and rivers, deposits from the ancient hot springs, the liquid water available on the desert planet and how the place became cold and inhabitable for humans.