BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– University of Colorado Boulder scientists are celebrating a big milestone in space history. It’s been 50 years since NASA’s first brush with Mars.

(credit: NASA)

CU Boulder Mars expert professor Nick Schneider says the Mars connection to Colorado is a big one.

(credit: NASA)

READ MORE: Denver Metro Area Sees Big Increase In Vehicle Theft During COVID, Some Blame Lack Of Jail Time For Suspects

The Mariner spacecraft was sent out for Mars exploration with help from CU Boulder in 1969.

(credit: NASA)

READ MORE: Fantasy Football Start Or Sit Week 13: Elijah Mitchell Looks To Take Advantage Of Seahawks' Defense

“We put an instrument on this that discovered a cloud of the used to be a part of water escaping from Mars, that was 50 years ago,” said Schneider.

(credit: CBS)

MORE NEWS: State Lawmakers Vow Change After Allegations Of Funeral Homes Selling Body Parts, Giving Families False Cremains  

CU Boulder has been building instruments to measure planetary atmospheres since the 1940s, even before NASA was created.