List of all active robots on and around Mars

Humanity has populated Mars with a variety of robots over the years. From rovers to landers to orbiting spacecraft, there’s been a lot – and it can be overwhelming. Read on to see all the missions still active on and around Mars today.

In the late 1960s, when people were asked when humanity would colonize Mars, most said within a decade. It’s clear that off the excitement of the Moon landings, the red planet seemed obtainable. And according to NASA Astronaut Chris Hadfield, it was.

“We could send people to Mars decades ago,” Hadfield told Business Insider. “The technology that took us to the moon and back when I was just a kid — that technology can take us to Mars.” Knowing the risks of a long deep space journey and being dumped on a world with conditions harsher than any on Earth, he went on to explain we didn’t go because ‘the majority of the astronauts wouldn’t make it.’

Earth seen from Mars. Captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover on August 6, 2013

It’s a long 34 million-mile slog through space to reach Mars (when it’s closest to Earth). A trip that could take anywhere around seven months, traveling at about 24,600 mph or 39,600 kph (the speed of a spacecraft leaving Earth’s atmosphere). This increases the risks of mechanical failures, radiation, starvation, and many other unforeseen problems.

Instead, humanity turned to robots.

Since the 1970s, scientists have sent three types of spacecraft to Mars. One kind, called orbiters, take images as they orbit around the planet. Another, called landers, provide images and data from their fixed landing spots. And lastly, rovers specialize in exploration and are remotely operated by teams on Earth.

There have been 30 dedicated space missions to Mars. These are the 12 that remain active:

TypeNameAgencyLaunch DateDate entered orbit
Orbiter2001 Mars Odyssey🇺🇸 NASA7 April 200124 October 2001
OrbiterMars Express🇪🇺 ESA2 June 200325 December 2003
OrbiterMars Reconnaissance Orbiter🇺🇸 NASA12 August 200510 March 2006
OrbiterMAVEN🇺🇸 NASA18 November 201322 September 2014
OrbiterExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter🇪🇺 ESA
14 March 201619 October 2016
OrbiterEmirates Mars Mission (Hope)🇦🇪 UAESA19 July 20209 February 2021
OrbiterTianwen 1🇨🇳 CNSA23 July 202010 February 2021
RoverCuriosity🇺🇸 NASA26 November 20116 August 2012
RoverPerseverance🇺🇸 NASA30 July 202018 February 2021
RoverZhurong🇨🇳 CNSA23 July 20201 June 2021
LanderInSight🇺🇸 NASA5 May 201826 November 2018
HelicopterIngenuity (part of Percy)🇺🇸 NASA30 July 202018 February 2021
Last updated: 11/12/2022

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