By Lawrence Klaes, Guest Writer, The Mars Society
If there is one highlight among many that the Twenty-First Century can be noted for when it comes to space exploration, it is as the era when the automated rover really took off – and all over – the planet Mars.
At this moment, there are three functioning multi-wheeled explorers making their way across different parts of the Red Planet, their suites of instruments gleaning what they can about their new homes and relaying that priceless scientific data back to their creators on Earth.
Two of the rovers, named Curiosity and Perseverance, are of American origin, while the very latest member of this elite group, Zhurong, is the first Mars rover effort by China. Their primary goals are to return geological, meteorological, and any biological information about the fourth planet from the Sun utilizing some of the most sophisticated scientific devices yet built for these tasks.
The First Mars Rovers
The trio are hardly the first rovers to reach the Red Planet. As far back as 1971, the Soviet Union tried to land two small rovers called PROP-M attached to robotic landers named, aptly enough, Mars 2 and Mars 3.
Mars 2 ...