as imaged by the Hubble telescope

With so many failures of U.S. as well as Russian missions sent to Mars, one begins to wonder if there is another cause at the root of these mission ending failures other than technical glitches. Most intriguing are the missions, both US as well as Russian, that succeeded in reaching the red planet, yet mysteriously failed once Mars orbit was achieved or, as in a number of missions, once a successfully touched down on the Mars surface.  
Greg Giles    

Historical Log

Launch Date Name Country Result Reason
1960 Korabl 4 USSR (flyby) Failure Didn’t reach Earth orbit
1960 Korabl 5 USSR (flyby) Failure Didn’t reach Earth orbit
1962 Korabl 11 USSR (flyby) Failure Earth orbit only; broke apart
1962 Mars 1 USSR (flyby) Failure Radio Failed
1962 Korabl 13 USSR (flyby) Failure Earth orbit only; spacecraft broke apart
1964 Mariner 3 US (flyby) Failure Shroud failed to jettison
1964 Mariner 4 US (flyby) Success Returned 21 images
1964 Zond 2 USSR (flyby) Failure Radio failed
1969 Mars 1969A USSR Failure Launch vehicle failure
1969 Mars 1969B USSR Failure Launch vehicle failure
1969 Mariner 6 US (flyby) Success Returned 75 images
1969 Mariner 7 US (flyby) Success Returned 126 images
1971 Mariner 8 US Failure Launch failure
1971 Kosmos 419 USSR Failure Achieved Earth orbit only
1971 Mars 2 Orbiter/Lander USSR Failure Orbiter arrived, but no useful data and Lander destroyed
1971 Mars 3 Orbiter/Lander USSR Success Orbiter obtained approximately 8 months of data and lander landed safely, but only 20 seconds of data
1971 Mariner 9 US Success Returned 7,329 images
1973 Mars 4 USSR Failure Flew past Mars
1973 Mars 5 USSR Success Returned 60 images; only lasted 9 days
1973 Mars 6 Orbiter/Lander USSR Success/Failure Occultation experiment produced data and Lander failure on descent
1973 Mars 7 Lander USSR Failure Missed planet; now in solar orbit.
1975 Viking 1 Orbiter/Lander US Success Located landing site for Lander and first successful landing on Mars
1975 Viking 2 Orbiter/Lander US Success Returned 16,000 images and extensive atmospheric data and soil experiments
1988 Phobos 1 Orbiter USSR Failure Lost en route to Mars
1988 Phobos 2 Orbiter/Lander USSR Failure Lost near Phobos
1992 Mars Observer US Failure Lost prior to Mars arrival
1996 Mars Global Surveyor US Success More images than all Mars Missions
1996 Mars 96 Russia Failure Launch vehicle failure
1996 Mars Pathfinder US Success Technology experiment lasting 5 times longer than warranty
1998 Nozomi Japan Failure No orbit insertion; fuel problems
1998 Mars Climate Orbiter US Failure Lost on arrival
1999 Mars Polar Lander US Failure Lost on arrival
1999 Deep Space 2 Probes (2) US Failure Lost on arrival (carried on Mars Polar Lander)
2001 Mars Odyssey US Success High resolution images of Mars
2003 Orbiter/Beagle 2 Lander ESA Success/Failure Orbiter imaging Mars in detail and lander lost on arrival
2003 Mars Exploration Rover – Spirit US Success Operating lifetime of more than 15 times original warranty
2003 Mars Exploration Rover – Opportunity US Success Operating lifetime of more than 15 times original warranty
2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter US Success Returned more than 26 terabits of data (more than all other Mars missions combined)
2007 Phoenix Mars Lander US Success Returned more than 25 gigabits of data
2011 Mars Science Laboratory US Success Exploring Mars’ habitability
2011 Phobos-Grunt/Yinghuo-1 Russia/China Failure Stranded in Earth orbit
2013 Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution US Success Studying the Martian atmosphere
2013 Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) India Success Develop interplanetary technologies and explore Mars’ surface features, mineralogy and atmosphere.