Sovereignty in outer space is always a tricky subject, but out of all the lifeless rocks in the Solar System it was safe to say Mars was more American than most: every robot that ever crawled successfully on the planet's surface was made in the United States. But maybe not for much longer.
China has announced it is planning to send a rover to Mars by 2020 and bring back samples from the Red Planet just 10 years later.
Ouyang Ziyuan, the Chinese scientist who oversaw the country's successful moon rover mission last December, said this would be just the first step in China's plans to explore the Solar System - with further plans to send probes to the Sun.
Scott Pace, formerly of Nasa and director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told the Independent that China's plans were "ambitious but not impossible", adding that despite their success on the Moon, Mars is "much, much more difficult to reach and operate on".
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Of the seven rovers so far sent to Mars, only the four US missions have been successful.
A pair of Soviet rovers sent in 1971 failed to stay in touch with Earth for longer than 20 seconds; and in 2003, Britain's Beagle 2 Mars rover failed even to make it to the planet's surface.
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme aims to search for signs of life, past or present, on Mars - a long-standing trophy that Nasa's Curiosity rover has been slowly trundling towards since it landed in August 2012.
The Chinese Government had previously planned to head to Mars with the help of Russia but abandoned the partnership following the 2012 crash of the Phobus-Grunt, a Russian spacecraft carrying a Chinese probe to Phobus, a satellite of Mars.
This severing of ties looked increasingly wise in the past week as Russia cancelled the first flight of its new orbit-capable Angara rocket on Friday.
For the future, Nasa has currently pledged to land an astronaut on the Red Planet by 2035, while China's last announcements set a date of between 2040 and 2060.