Over the last 300 hundred years our concept of Mars has evolved from a red rock of mysterious origins (often with hostile inhabitants!) to a baron, desert like planet that may – or may not – have once harboured primitive life. 

With the development of orbiting probes, planetary landers and rovers over the last half century we have been able to gain a more honest picture of the Martian planet, dispelling myths of ancient civilisations and space invaders to the pages of science fiction.

However there's still a lot to learn about Mars, and the so-called Red Planet continues to spark our curiosity and imagination. 

Knowing more about the planet’s geology and climate will not only allow us to better understand its past, including whether it ever supported life, but will also inform any future manned missions to planet. 

A Curious Collection

On 6 August at around 05:24 UTC, NASAs latest Mars rover, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) or Curiosity as it's commonly known, will begin its terrifyingly complex descent to the planet surface.

Unlike previous rovers the MSL is not looking directly for life, but the pre-requisites for it in an attempt to ascertain whether Mars could have once supported life. The rover is also collecting data that will inform a future manned mission to the planet, including information on its geology and climate.

This special collection brings together the best videos on Mars and the ongoing MSL mission, includes material from the likes of NASA and the Ri archives, revisiting Carl Sagan's 1977 Christmas Lectures to explore Mars' history.

Media Gallery

  • Rover Wheels

    Wheel size comparison: Sojourner, Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Science Laboratory

    Image: NASA

  • Rover Configuration

    Diagram of Curiosity's instruments

    Image: NASA

  • Entry

    Curiosity's entry procedure

    Image: NASA

  • Landing

    Curiosity's landing procedure

    Image: NASA

  • Mars

    Global mosaic of 102 Viking 1 Orbiter images of Mars taken on orbit 1,334, 22 February 1980.

    Image: NASA

  • Mars versus Earth

    Relative size comparison.

    Image: NASA

  • Mars solar orbit

    Mars' orbit of the sun lasts 687 (Earth) days.

    cc_by-sa License: Creative Commons
    Image: Lookang

  • Curiosity captures the surface of Mars

    One of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover.

    Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Related link(s)

Tweets from @MarsCuriosity

More tweets

Curiosity on Mars

Everything you need to know about our return to the red planet.

Artists impression of Curiosity on Mars

Image: NASA