The first spacecraft to fly by the planet Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. The first spacecraft to orbit the planet was Mariner 9 in 1971, and the first spacecraft to land on the Martian surface were Viking 1 and 2 in 1976.
Prior to Mariner 9's orbit around Mars, Mariner 6 and 7 took atmospheric measurements during a flyby in 1969. In 1997, the Mars Global Surveyor began orbiting Mars, while Mars Pathfinder landed on the surface. The Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity arrived on Mars in 2002. In 2012, NASA's rover Curiosity landed on Mars to explore its Gale Crater.