In recent years, NASA tried to track down signs of life on Mars. The researchers were unable to find signs of life as we know it, but it is now known that liquid water was present on the surface in the form of rivers. Backed by a climate which was considerably tamer in the past, life may have existed.
Throughout the years NASA intensified its efforts in an attempt to learn about the Red Planet. In 1996 a robotic spacecraft was launched as the agency wanted to investigate the Martian.
The project was a part of the Discovery initiative, whose purpose was to develop low-cost probes which could be used to explore attractive objectives. Many of the technologies used in the more advanced successors were tested during this mission.
The success of the mission prompted NASA to launch another spacecraft a few years later. The 2001 Mars Odyssey is a robotic spacecraft fitted with spectrometers and an advanced thermal imager.
NASA continues the search for life on Mars
The purpose of the mission is to track down sources of water and study the geology and radiation levels of the planet. It managed to collect a large amount of data, and it is still operational.
A large amount of useful information was gathered by a part of rovers which were sent towards the planet in 2004. Spirit and Opportunity explored the surface. The initial schedule involved 90-day missions but both rovers were able to last a lot longer.
Curiosity remains the most iconic rover, as it managed to explore a large surface over the years and sent back thousands of pictures which can be observed on the official NASA website.
NASA is currently working on a revamped strategy as the company plans to send a crewed mission to Mars in the future. While the more immediate goal is to return to the moon in less than five years, it is likely that more steps will be taken to reach the planet in the upcoming decade.