If you include rovers and landers in your population count, the Red Planet is positively teeming with "life", or the pitter-patter of robot wheels at least. There are currently three rovers, one lander, and a helicopter operating on Mars, each with its own equally important job.
The oldest of our Mars crew is the Curiosity rover, arriving on August 6, 2012. Despite being given a mission length of just one Martian year (687 Earth days), the rover is putting in some serious overtime almost 10 years later! Curiosity is on the hunt for microbial life using some clever tech, including a laser which it has now learned to use autonomously.
Flying the proverbial flag for the landers is InSight. Landing on November 26, 2018, InSight spends its days looking deep into the crust, core, and mantle of Mars. By tracking tectonic activity, seismology, and temperature, InSight gathers valuable data on how our neighbor planet evolved. However, the Mars population will soon be losing this valuable member as InSight is preparing to power down having lost the use of its solar panel chargers, and isn't expected to last out the year.
PERSEVERANCE AND INGENUITY
On February 18, 2021, Perseverance and its trusty sidekick Ingenuity arrived. With the aim of establishing how sustainable life would be on Mars, the rover tests oxygen production, and looks for signs of past life and subsurface waterbodies in its rocks. Ingenuity, the Marscopter, works alongside Perseverance to test the capabilities of powered flight. But these socialites aren’t alone on their mission, having picked up a trusty pet rock on their travels, this planet of over-achievers has a Martian rock breaking hitchhiking records.
Last on our list is the Zhurong rover, landing on May 15, 2021. China’s first successful Mars mission, and the second country ever to successfully land on Mars, the rover is investigating the planet’s geology and surface composition, attempting to establish a natural history of the planet’s environment. Zhurong is currently preparing for the harsh Mars winter by entering into hibernation on May 18 and hopefully avoiding the treacherous dust winds that have already claimed the use of InSight's solar panels.
As Mars is considered the closest planet to Earth that could potentially support human life, learning everything there is to know about the Red Planet could make interplanetary settlement a real possibility, so keep trucking little robots!