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IntroductionRecorded observations of Mars date as far back as the era of ancient Egypt over 4,000 years ago, when they charted the planet's movements in the sky, including its intriguing retrograde motion. In more recent times, many spacecraft have visited this fascinating planet, from flybys and orbiters to probes and rovers on the surface.
- 1659: Christiaan Huygens sketches the dark marking called Syrtis Major on Mars.
- 1877: Giovanni Schiaparelli maps Mars, including canali, “channels” (not “canals”) he saw connecting some features.
- 1877: Asaph Hall discovers the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos.
- 1965: NASA's Mariner 4 sends back 22 photos of Mars, the world's first close-up photos of a planet beyond Earth.
- 1976: Viking 1 and 2 land on the surface of Mars.
- 1997: Mars Pathfinder lands and dispatches Sojourner, the first wheeled rover to explore the surface of another planet.
- 2002: Mars Odyssey begins its mission to make global observations and find buried water ice on Mars.
- 2004: Twin Mars Exploration Rovers named Spirit and Opportunity find strong evidence that Mars once had long-term liquid water on the surface.
- 2006: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter begins returning high-resolution images as it studies the history of water on Mars and seasonal changes.
- 2008: Phoenix finds signs of possible habitability, including the occasional presence of liquid water and potentially favorable soil chemistry.
- 2012: NASA's Mars rover Curiosity lands in Gale Crater and finds conditions once suited for ancient microbial life on Mars.
Astronauts pave the way for human exploration beyond our Earth. They are pilots, scientists, engineers, teachers, and more.
Project managers guide missions from concept to completion, working closely with team members to accomplish what they set out to do.
Sample processors protect and preserve samples delivered back to Earth so they can be studied by scientists.
The first thing that fired my imagination for planetary science was when the NASA Voyager spacecraft discovered active volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io.
Melding science with design, artists create everything from large-scale installations to the NASA posters hanging in your bedroom.
Media specialists tells stories across social media and help feature missions and people on TV and in films, books, magazines, and news sites.
Writers/producers capture the incredible stories of NASA's missions and people and share them with the world.
Administrators and directors work out of NASA headquarters, prioritizing science questions and seeking to expand the frontiers of discovery.
Whether it's introducing kids to space or teaching physics to PhD candidates, educators help share their knowledge with the public.
Engineers design and build all types of machines, from what a spacecraft looks like to the software that directs where a rover goes each day.
From an astrophysicist to a volcanologist, scientists of all types pose questions and help find answers to the mysteries of our universe.
The important thing about being a scientist or an engineer is learning how to think critically, learning how to be creative, learning problem solving and learning how to learn.