Mars captured interest when it was spotted within a telescope. The sightings revealed growth of vegetation and appeared to have linear features. Later on, more features were found such as polar caps and the solar systems tallest mountain: Olympus Mons. These made scientists curious.
Probes started getting sent over to orbit the planet for data. After enough data was collected, landers started getting sent over. The first two failed to successfully land however. NASA landed the first lander as part of the viking program to get colored panoramas. Two of Mars' moons were spotted shortly after by Russia's probes to orbit and research them. In total, 47 spacecrafts were sent to mars,but two-thirds of them didn't make it.
A rover was sent to mars called Phoenix,was sent to see if water is on the planet. Its arm dug into the ground and found traces of it in the form of ice water. This raised the question if mars was habitable for humans in the future.
The next step in the exploration is to find life on mars,or start preparing the planet for humans to land on it.
In the future, humans may start living on mars,or creating life on the planet. The first goal however is for humans to start landing and exploring themselves.
By refocusing our space program on Mars for America's future, we can restore the sense of wonder and adventure in space exploration that we knew in the summer of 1969. We won the moon race; now it's time for us to live and work on Mars, first on its moons and then on its surface. -Buzz Aldrin