Mars has been explored by numerous unmanned spacecraft. Mariner 4, launched by NASA on November 28, 1964, was the first spacecraft to visit Mars, making its closest approach to the planet on July 15, 1965. Mariner 4 detected the weak Martian radiation belt, measured at about 0. 1% that of Earth’s, and captured the first images of another planet from deep space. On July 20, 1976, Viking 1 performed the first successful landing on the Martian surface. Although the Soviet Mars 3 spacecraft achieved a soft landing in December 1971, contact was lost with its lander seconds after touchdown. On July 4, 1997, the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft landed on Mars, and on July 5 released its rover, Sojourner, the first robotic rover to operate on Mars. Pathfinder was followed by the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in January 2004 and operated until March 22, 2010 and June 10, 2018, respectively. The Mars Express orbiter, the first European Space Agency spacecraft to visit Mars, arrived in orbit on December 25, 2003. On September 24, 2014, the Indian Space Research Organization became the fourth space agency to visit Mars, when its maiden interplanetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, successfully arrived in orbit.
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