There was a time when it seemed as if the exploration of Mars, however exciting, had snatched away the romantic desert world of Burroughs, Brackett, Bradbury and others and replaced it with something barren and lifeless. I suppose Mars as we see it today still qualifies as "barren and lifeless," but once we started getting imagery of the surface, the romance started creeping back in.
|Image taken by Viking 2 lander in 1976. Source: Wikimedia Commons|
EDIT: Removed hypertext link to Viking 2 image and added the actual picture to the post.