New Probe to Rendezvous with Mars

If all goes well, a powerful new space probe will arrive Friday to Mars. As the name suggests, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will not land on the surface.

It's designed to view the entire planet from an altitude of about 200 miles.

But first it has to arrive safely, and that's been no easy feat for past Mars missions.

Artistic rendition of the probe poised over Mars.

The orbiter could ultimately serve as a relay station for future missions to Mars. NASA hide caption

itoggle caption NASA

Past Blasts to Mars

Mars exploration has followed a long and bumpy interplanetary road. There have been 38 separate missions to Mars, and more than half have failed. The latest mission — the Phoenix lander — marks the 39th journey. Here, highlights of these Earthly attempts to film, circle and touch the cold Red Planet.

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