The planet Mars has been explored remotely by spacecraft. Probes sent from Earth, beginning in the late 20th century, have yielded a large increase in knowledge about the Martian system, focused primarily on understanding its geology and habitability potential. Engineering interplanetary journeys is complicated and the exploration of Mars has experienced a high failure rate, especially the early attempts. Roughly sixty percent of all spacecraft destined for Mars failed before completing their missions and some failed before their observations could begin. Some missions have met with unexpected success, such as the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity which operated for years beyond their specification.
Attitudes toward space have intensified. Certainly, something happened in the last ten years. Today, public opinion polls suggest a crushing majority of Americans support NASA. A plurality favors landing astronauts on Mars over the moon. There seems to be more support for Mars exploration than ever.