Over the years there have been many missions to mars, some were very successful, while others were not. All of these missions have been for the purpose of photographing the planet, and bringing back as much new information as possible on every aspect of Mars. Over the years these missions have evolved from simply flying by the planet and taking pictures to actually landing on the surface and deploying mobile units which can better analyze the surface. Astronomers are already hard at work on future missions to mars which include studying the geology of mars, and possibly bringing back samples to be analyzed here on earth. Looking back on past missions, Mars is indeed very interesting to study, and it is very intriguing to look at future missions which are planned in terms of what we may discover.
The very first missions involving Mars were known as Flybys. These first missions simply flew by Mars and took as many pictures as possible.
The first three attempted flybys occurred in the early 60's by Russia. None of these missions were named, and only the third one actually achieved earths orbit and failed from there. The next attempted missions also came out of Russia, but the radio failed at approximately 66 million miles from earth (Bond). After all of these failed attempts the United States finally got into the act when they created the Mariner 3 and the Mariner 4. The Mariners were all relatively small robotic explorers, each launched on an Atlas rocket with either an Agena or Centaur upper-stage booster, and weighing less than half a ton. The Mariner 3 was launched on November 5, 1964, but the shroud encasing the spacecraft atop its rocket failed to open properly, and Mariner 3 did not get to Mars. Three weeks later,