British scientists have recreated the environment of the red planet to test out three prototype Mars rovers.
ITV News speaks to the British men and women shortlisted for a mission to establish a human colony on Mars.
India has successfully launched a controversial space rocket which it hopes to use to reach Mars.
A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings made a successful rocket ride over the Pacific, but its massive descent parachute only partially unfurled.
The Low Density Supersonic Decelerator was lifted by balloon 120,000 feet into the air from the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The vehicle then rocketed even higher before deploying a novel inflatable braking system.
But cheers rapidly died as a gigantic chute designed to slow its fall to splashdown in the ocean emerged tangled. Still, NASA officials said it is a pretty good test of technology that might one day be used to deliver heavy spacecraft - and eventually astronauts - to Mars.
Mars Curiosity Rover, the exploration robot monitoring the red planet's surface, has sent back a photo of itself at the "Windjana" drilling site.
The rover was taking soil samples which it would then analyse and send back to NASA.
The Rover was able to take the photo using its Mastcam, which took a huge composite image over the course of the day.
The arm is then removed in editing showing the entire rover in high-definition.
The Mars Curiosity Rover successfully landed on August 6 in 2012 and has continued to send pictures of the red planet back.
Images captured by Nasa's Mars Curiosity rover have sparked debate among UFO believers, with some suggesting they "could indicate that there is intelligent life below the ground" on the planet.
The pictures, taken on April 3 by the Curiosity rover's right-hand navcam, appear to show a light in the distance, flaring upwards from behind the hillside.
But the theories have been dispelled by imaging expert Doug Ellison from JPL, Nasa's robotic exploration wing. Speaking to NBC News, he blames the glimmer on a "cosmic ray hit" - when high energy particles hit a surface.
The Mars Curiosity Rover has tweeted an image of the twilight sky and Martian horizon which includes Earth as the brightest point of light in the night sky.
Earth sits left of centre in the picture, with moon is just below.
The view was captured about 80 minutes after sunset on the 529th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars (31st January 2014). The image has been processed to remove effects of cosmic rays.
A human observer with normal vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright "evening stars."
A mission to put humans on Mars has whittled a list of 200,000 applicants down to 1,058 candidates who will now be tested to come up with a final list of 24 would-be Mars-dwellers.
Mars One was set up in 2011 by two Dutch men with the goal of establishing permanent human life on Mars by 2025.
The thousand candidates who got through to the first round come from all over the world. Some 36 Britons have made the list, along with 297 Americans, 75 Canadians and 62 Indians.
Of the total, 813 are currently employed, 164 are in education and 81 are unemployed.
They must now undergo rigorous tests, including simulations of life on Mars and coping with isolation, co-founder Bas Lansdorp said.
NASA has launched a rocket set for Mars to study the red planet's atmosphere.
The Maven spacecraft is due to reach Mars next Autumn following a journey of more than 440 million miles.
Scientists want to unravel the mystery of the planet's drastic radical climate change, with Mars being warm and wet in its first billion years to cold and dry today.
The mission, which has cost $671 million (£417m), is NASA's 21st to the red planet since the 1960s but it is the first dedicated to studying the Martian upper atmosphere.
India's successful launch of an unmanned satellite to Mars will be a big boost for morale for the South Asian country, one of India's leading lunar scientists told the BBC.
As the mission blasted off from Chennai, in the east of the world's second most populous country, SK Shivakumar, director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore said:
"National pride is important. If the Mars mission succeeds, it will be a big morale booster for India. We are not in a space race."