The US Space Agency has been exploring the Red Planet for over 50 years. On November 28, 1964, the automatic interplanetary station "Mariner-4" was sent to a "rendezvous" with the fourth planet farthest from the Sun. In the summer of 65, she managed to forever write her name in the history of astronautics: she became the first spacecraft that managed to take a picture of Mars at close range and transmit it to Earth.
Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to capture a close-up image of Mars and transmit it to Earth. In general, the Americans began exploring the surface of the Red Planet 40 years ago (as part of the Viking space program), and for about 20 years they have not “left” this planet. On July 4, 1997, the Sojourner rover landed on the surface of Mars, and from that moment on, NASA has a permanent "presence" on the Red Planet.
Today, three NASA spacecraft are in orbit at once - MAVEN, MRO and Mars Odysseus, and two Mars rovers - Curiosity and Opportunity - roam the planet's surface.
“We have been sending astronauts to space exploration for 50 years. During this time, we managed to accumulate experience and knowledge that will help us send the first people to Mars. We are working in all directions to properly prepare for this historic day and we want to share our progress with you,”NASA says modestly.
So what are we talking about?
Building Space Launch System
We all understand that in order to colonize the Red Planet, you must first fly to it. Safe and sound. Therefore, an important part of preparing for a trip to Mars is the creation of a rocket capable of such a "feat".
NASA is pinning all its hopes on the Space Launch System, a super-heavy launch vehicle for manned missions beyond Earth orbit. It is currently being developed by Boeing.
NASA: "When it comes to our journey to Mars and beyond, there is no need to talk about a 'small step' anymore."
Experience of life on the ISS will help people on Mars
Members of the new crew of the International Space Station - ISS-50 - will soon conduct more than 250 experiments on board. In total, more than 2000 experiments have already been carried out on the ISS!
NASA: "Experiments in areas such as biology, physics, earth sciences and humans help us gain the knowledge we need to survive in space for a long time."
Orion testing will help the crew live and work in space and return home safely
In 2018, on the "nose" of the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft will embark on its first journey into space, where no ship built for humans has ever reached.
When Orion returns to Earth, it will have to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, after which it will be safely delivered to land.
NASA is currently actively testing Orion to ensure complete safety for the future crew of the spacecraft.
NASA: "We are using the potential of the automatic interplanetary station Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to learn as much as possible about the potential landing sites of our future mission."
Who knows what surprises the Red Planet has in store for us?
NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has already discovered a lot of interesting things on Mars, including a meteorite. And what do you think he did to him? Shot with a laser, of course.
The rover stumbled upon this tiny celestial body late last month on Mars' Mount Sharp. Curiosity has found meteorites on Mars before, but this one attracted attention with its rounded shape with a perfectly smooth surface and deep grooves. The diameter of the meteorite, which consists of nickel, iron and phosphorus, is 4 centimeters.
NASA: "By studying conditions on the Red Planet using vehicles such as Curiosity, we are gaining new knowledge that can help prepare future astronauts for life on this planet."
How to prepare the tallest rocket ever built for its debut launch?
Another important component of the successful launch of the Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft is the creation of the necessary infrastructure at the Kennedy Space Center.
NASA: "We hope you can build your plans to join us on the first SLS Orion launch from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad in 2018."
Preparing for a human journey to Mars
The next Mars rover being developed by NASA, Mars 2020, will arrive on the planet in 5 years. His responsibilities will include looking for signs of a past life, collecting samples for delivery back to Earth, and demonstrating technologies for future human development of the Red Planet. The mission will also test technology for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere.
NASA: "Before sending people to the Red Planet, it is very important for us to have a holistic view of the Martian environment."