Mars has always been a magnet for the human curiosity. The more we know about the red planet and its past, the more complex are the unanswered questions. In order to answer them, an ambitious long-term plan for the robotic and manned exploration of Mars has been established by the scientific community worldwide. To ensure success in answering the issues to be investigated on each step of the plan, the selection of “on board” payloads at mission level is specifically designed for achieving the best possible results. This selection also has modified the mission operation modes from a set of individual experiments to a cooperative science paradigm where all the instruments in the mission payload contribute jointly to achieve unprecedented scientific results. Collaboration not only between experiments but also between agencies for achieving major goals has been demonstrated as the optimum way forward for Mars exploration. This chapter presents a historical review, with a look into the future, of the human efforts aimed at understanding the red planet, focusing on the technological advances and scientific discoveries achieved that help answer some of the most thrilling and transcendental questions ever raised by humanity: Are we alone in the Universe?
Part of the book: Mars Exploration