The US space agency NASA successfully landed a huge new robot rover on Mars earlier this week, which has today beamed back its first colour picture.
Known as Curiosity, the one-tonne vehicle, which holds the record for the largest planetary rover, landed in Gale crater, near the Martian equator on Monday.
It is now set to embark on a mission of at least two years to look for evidence that Mars may once have supported life.
Curiosity measures 3m long and has a mass of 900 kg, including 80 kg of scientific instruments. It is designed to travel at up to 90 m per hour autonomously during its explorations of Gale crater.
To mark this space exploration breakthrough, here are ten mars-related records.
1. First spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars
The USSR Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions were the first spacecraft to reach the surface of Mars, in 1971. We have yet to see a successful sample return mission, but the first visit by humans should happen within the next few decades.
2. First successful Mars polar lander
NASA´s Phoenix spacecraft landed in the Vastitas Borealis, the great world-wrapping lowland plain in the northern polar region, on 25 May 2008. It entered the atmosphere after a nearly nine month journey at 21,000 kph, using a heat shield, then parachute and retro rockets to slow to just 8 kph for touchdown. Amongst its equipment was a robot arm that dug trenches in the surface and dropped the soil into analysers on the lander. Contact was lost with Phoenix on 2 November 2008.
3. Land speed record on Mars
Twin NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity touched down on Mars on 4 and 25 January 2004. Both were capable of a maximum velocity of 5 cm/second (1.9 in/second).
4. Farthest distance travelled on Mars in one day
In February 2004 (corresponding to sol 362-363) Nasa's Mars exploration rover Opportunity travelled 156.55 m (513 ft 7 in) across Meridiani Planum. A sol is one Martian day, and is 24 hr 39 min 35 sec long.
5. Largest area of surface ice
Almost all of the ice on Mars´ surface is in the poles. Both poles consist of water ice which gains a seasonal coating of carbon dioxide 'dry´ ice during their respective winters. The southern cap is the largest, around 420 km across, and containing enough water to cover the entire planet in a layer 11 m deep.
6. Most similar environment to Earth
With surface temperatures ranging from -140ºC to 20ºC (-220ºF to 68°F), and a day lasting 24.6 hours, Mars is the planet that would be easiest to colonize. Spacesuits would still be required, however, as the carbon-dioxide atmosphere is thin and poisonous. Some scientists have suggested "terraforming" Mars - gradually changing the planet's atmosphere so that humans could walk on its surface with minimal protection.
7. First extraterrestrial dust devils
First seen from orbit by the Viking spacecraft in the 1970s, the dust devils on Mars can tower many kilometres above the landscape. They are caused as the Sun warms the ground, heating the air above it which rises and starts to spin, as well as pick up loose dust. In 2005 a dust devil passed over NASA´s Spirit rover, blowing off dust that had accumulated on its solar panels, and improving its power levels.
8. Youngest evidence of liquid water on Mars
An image taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter of a dry gulley in the Promethei Highlands suggests liquid water flowed on Mars as recently as 1.25 million years ago. The gully looks like it formed as ice melted, flowed downhill and deposited sediment before evaporating in the thin Martian atmosphere.
9. Highest mountain in the Solar System
Olympus Mons is the highest mountain in the solar system. Its peak is 25 km (15 miles) above its base - nearly three times the height of Mt. Everest. Olympus Mons is desginated a shield volcano because of its shape. Despite its great height, it has a very gentle slope. Olympus Mons is over twenty times wider than it is high.
It is the same kind of volcano as the active volcanoes currently 'creating' the Hawaiian Islands. The line around Olympus Mons is a 'basal cliff' which is as high as 6 km (3.72 miles) in some places.
10. Highest clouds in the solar system
In August 2006, European scientists reported their discovery of faint clouds some 90-100 km (55-62 miles) above the surface of Mars. The clouds, detected by an instrument on the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express orbiter, are made up of carbon-dioxide ice crystals.