By Mike Wall, Space.com, 07.27.12
The huge NASA rover speeding toward an Aug. 5 landing on Mars may be
the most capable and complex Red Planet explorer ever launched, but it's
far from the first.
The 1-ton Curiosity rover
— which will search for evidence that Mars is, or ever was, capable of
supporting microbial life — represents humanity's 40th effort to explore
the Red Planet over the last half-century.
The huge number of attempted Mars missions may seem surprising, especially since many of our solar system's
other planets and moons remain relatively unstudied. But the Red Planet
keeps calling us back — and for good reason, experts say. "Mars
is such a compelling scientific target," said Scott Hubbard of Stanford
University, the former "Mars Czar" who restructured NASA's Red Planet
program after it suffered several high-profile failures in the late
1990s.To read the full article, please click here.[Image: NASA]