Timeline: A Historical Look at Every Mission to Mars
Within our Solar System, Mars is one of the most similar planets to Earth—both have rocky landscapes, solid outer crusts, and cores made of molten rock.
Because of its similarities to Earth and proximity, humanity has been fascinated by Mars for centuries. In fact, it’s one of the most explored objects in our Solar System.
But just how many missions to Mars have we embarked on, and which of these journeys have been successful? This graphic by Jonathan Letourneau shows a timeline of every mission to Mars since 1960 using NASA’s historical data.
A Timeline of Mars Explorations
According to a historical log from NASA, there have been 48 missions to Mars over the last 60 years. Here’s a breakdown of each mission, and whether or not they were successful:
|1||1960||Korabl 4||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|2||1960||Korabl 5||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|3||1962||Korabl 11||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|4||1962||Mars 1||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|5||1962||Korabl 13||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|6||1964||Mariner 3||US (flyby)||Failure|
|7||1964||Mariner 4||US (flyby)||Success|
|8||1964||Zond 2||USSR (flyby)||Failure|
|11||1969||Mariner 6||US (flyby)||Success|
|12||1969||Mariner 7||US (flyby)||Success|
|15||1971||Mars 2 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Failure|
|16||1971||Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Success/Failure|
|20||1973||Mars 6 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Success/Failure|
|21||1973||Mars 7 Lander||USSR||Failure|
|22||1975||Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander||US||Success|
|23||1975||Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander||US||Success|
|24||1988||Phobos 1 Orbiter||USSR||Failure|
|25||1988||Phobos 2 Orbiter/Lander||USSR||Failure|
|27||1996||Mars Global Surveyor||US||Success|
|31||1998||Mars Climate Orbiter||US||Failure|
|32||1999||Mars Polar Lander||US||Failure|
|33||1999||Deep Space 2 Probes (2)||US||Failure|
|35||2003||Mars Express Orbiter/Beagle 2 Lander||ESA||Success/Failure|
|36||2003||Mars Exploration Rover - Spirit||US||Success|
|37||2003||Mars Exploration Rover - Opportunity||US||Success|
|38||2005||Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter||US||Success|
|39||2007||Phoenix Mars Lander||US||Success|
|40||2011||Mars Science Laboratory||US||Success|
|42||2013||Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution||US||Success|
|43||2013||Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)||India||Success|
|44||2016||ExoMars Orbiter/Schiaparelli EDL Demo Lander||ESA/Russia||Success/Failure|
|45||2018||Mars InSight Lander||US||Success|
|47||2020||Tianwen-1 Orbiter/Zhurong Rover||China||Success|
|48||2020||Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover||US||Success|
The first mission to Mars was attempted by the Soviets in 1960, with the launch of Korabl 4, also known as Mars 1960A.
As the table above shows, the voyage was unsuccessful. The spacecraft made it 120 km into the air, but its third-stage pumps didn’t generate enough momentum for it to stay in Earth’s orbit.
For the next few years, several more unsuccessful Mars missions were attempted by the USSR and then NASA. Then, in 1964, history was made when NASA launched the Mariner 4 and completed the first-ever successful trip to Mars.
The Mariner 4 didn’t actually land on the planet, but the spacecraft flew by Mars and was able to capture photos, which gave us an up-close glimpse at the planet’s rocky surface.
Then on July 20, 1976, NASA made history again when its spacecraft called Viking 1 touched down on Mars’ surface, making it the first space agency to complete a successful Mars landing. Viking 1 captured panoramic images of the planet’s terrain, and also enabled scientists to monitor the planet’s weather.
Vacation to Mars, Anyone?
To date, all Mars landings have been done without crews, but NASA is planning to send humans to Mars by the late 2030s.
And it’s not just government agencies that are planning missions to Mars—a number of private companies are getting involved, too. Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX has a long-term plan to build an entire city on Mars.
Two other aerospace startups, Impulse and Relativity, also announced an unmanned joint mission to Mars in July 2022, with hopes it could be ready as soon as 2024.
As more players are added to the mix, the pressure is on to be the first company or agency to truly make it to Mars. If (or when) we reach that point, what’s next is anyone’s guess.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
iPhone Now Makes Up the Majority of U.S. Smartphones
Apple’s flagship device has captured a modest 16% of the global market, and Android dominates globally. Why do so many Americans keep buying iPhones?
iPhone Now Makes Up the Majority of U.S. Smartphones
One of the most iconic tech moments of the 21st century is Steve Jobs, in his signature black turtleneck, holding up a small device: the iPhone. Since that introduction at the 2007 Macworld conference in San Francisco, iPhone has gone on to become a global phenomenon, with over 1.2 billion units now sold around the world.
Today, the smartphone market is a fiercely competitive space.
On a global scale, iPhone has carved out a respectable 16% of the smartphone market. In the U.S., however, the iPhone has managed to win the hearts and minds of more consumers. New data from Counterpoint Research via FT notes that iPhones now make up 50% of the overall installed user base* in the United States.
With a plethora of smartphone brands available to American consumers—and many at lower price points—what is it that makes this brand so popular?
iPhone: The Apple of America’s Eye
Experts point to a number of reasons why Apple’s flagship device outperforms in the U.S. compared to other markets.
- Apple has the highest brand loyalty of any major smartphone maker. 9 in 10 U.S. iPhone users plan to purchase an iPhone as their next device.
- iPhones appear to depreciate at a slower rate than other devices
- Broadly speaking, consumers in the U.S. have less price sensitivity than consumers in many other countries.
- Apple has been vocal in their messaging about protecting user privacy and data, and that message appears to be resonating with consumers.
This last point is worth digging into in more detail.
Winning the Privacy War
Personal data protection and cybersecurity have become mainstream concerns in recent years, and Apple has made security a priority.
Of course, security breaches can and do occur, regardless of what device is being used. That said, a recent survey by Beyond Identity indicates that iPhone users were less likely to be victims of security breaches, and were more likely to recover data in the event of a breach.
The survey also points out that iPhone users were less likely to have sensitive data, such as images and videos, credit card information, passwords, and personal data compromised when breaches occurred.
These findings aside, Apple has also been bullish on branding its devices as safe and secure. The “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” campaign launched in 2019, and most recently, Apple has put the data broker industry in its crosshairs through a new series of ad spots.
Simply put: whether or not iPhone is more secure than other devices, Apple has used its marketing muscle to sway public opinion at a time when Americans are focused on privacy. And based on these latest installed user base numbers, that strategy appears to be paying off.
Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies
Central bank digital currencies are coming, but progress varies greatly from country to country. View the infographic to learn more.
Visualized: The State of Central Bank Digital Currencies
Central banks around the world are getting involved in digital currencies, but some are further ahead than others.
In this map, we used data from the Atlantic Council’s Currency Tracker to visualize the state of each central banks’ digital currency effort.
Digital Currency – The Basics
Digital currencies have been around since the 1980s, but didn’t become widely popular until the launch of Bitcoin in 2009. Today, there are thousands of digital currencies in existence, also referred to as “cryptocurrencies”.
A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are based on a blockchain ledger. Blockchains can be either decentralized or centralized, but the most known cryptocurrencies today (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) tend to be decentralized in nature. This makes transfers and payments very difficult to trace because there is no single entity with full control.
Government-issued digital currencies, on the other hand, will be controlled by a central bank and are likely to be easily trackable. They would have the same value as the local cash currency, but instead issued digitally with no physical form.
Central Bank Digital Currencies Worldwide
105 countries are currently exploring centralized digital currencies. Together, they represent 95% of global GDP. The table below lists the data used in the infographic.
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Launched||Retail|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Launched||Retail|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Launched||Retail|
|United Arab Emirates||Pilot||Wholesale|
|Trinidad andd Tobago||Research||Undecided|
When aggregated, we can see that the majority of countries are in the research stage.
We’ve also divided the map by region to make viewing easier.
What are the Benefits?
A major benefit of government-issued digital currencies is that they can improve access for underbanked people.
This is not a huge issue in developed countries like the U.S., but many people in developing nations have no access to banks and other financial services (hence the term underbanked). As the number of internet users continues to climb, digital currencies represent a sound solution.
To learn more about this topic, visit this article from Global Finance, which lists the world’s most underbanked countries in 2021.
Just 9% of countries have launched a digital currency to date.
This includes Nigeria, which became the first African country to do so in October 2021. Half of the country’s 200 million population is believed to have no access to bank accounts.
Adoption of the eNaira (the digital version of the naira) has so far been relatively sluggish. The eNaira app has accumulated 700,000 downloads as of April 2022. That’s equal to 0.35% of the population, though not all of the downloads are users in Nigeria.
Conversely, 33.4 million Nigerians were reported to be trading or owning crypto assets, despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s attempts to restrict usage.
Status in the U.S.
America’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, has not decided on whether it will implement a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Our key focus is on whether and how a CBDC could improve on an already safe and efficient U.S. domestic payments system.
– Federal Reserve
To learn more, check out the Federal Reserve’s January 2022 paper on the pros and cons of CBDCs.
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