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Every Mission To Mars, Visualized

NASA is hard at work testing a deep-space capsule to ship humans off to Mars in the 2030s. In 2013, the Netherlands-based Mars One project, which aims to found a Martian colony by 2024, received thousands of submissions from people itching to GTFO of planet Earth and live their remaining days wearing bulky suits in a barren space desert.

Mars One is calling human arrival on Mars the “next giant leap for mankind.” What have the steps leading up to that leap looked like? Over at National Geographic, data visualizer Anna Scalamogna has put together a beautiful interactive infographic detailing all 43 Mars missions in the past half-century, attempted by the U.S., Russia, Japan, the European Space Agency, India, and China and Russia in tandem. Mousing over the graphic reveals the names of the missions, whether they succeeded or failed, and why.

Anna Scalamogna/Courtesy National Geographic

The graphic illustrates just how risky and difficult it is for spacecraft to travel the tens of millions of miles to our nearest planetary neighbor: More than half of attempted Mars missions failed. Causes of failure included faulty radios, breaking apart upon reentering earth’s orbit, never reaching earth’s orbit in the first place, and crash landings on Mars. We’re getting the hang of it, though: there’s only been one failed Mars mission in the past decade–China and Russia’s Phobos-Grunt/Yinghou-1, in 2011, which disintegrated after reaching earth’s orbit. Other recent missions paint an optimistic picture for those looking to leave earth: Mars rovers are still roaming the red planet, sending back data and images. Maybe in another 50 years, such photos will show up in real estate catalogs.

Head to National Geographic to play with the full interactive infographic.

[via National Geographic]

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