There is a window of opportunity to launch from Earth to a given planet, Mars being this example (the transfer orbit). The position, or orbit, of Earth in relation the the Mars orbit, is the least energy orbit. Our planets orbit in an ellipse. There are two points in space where Mars and Earth's orbit intersect, not at the same time, of course.
From the moment the craft leaves Earth bound for Mars, the craft itself is launched into its own orbital path through space (around the Sun). This approach to meet up on the celestial date with Mars requires the craft to be put in the Mars interplanetary trajectory.
All this requires perfect timing from launch. If not, the craft will simply be on an orbit itself never to get to the final destination.
Think of the planets like gears rotating, or a clock mechanism. You draw a dot on one tooth of the gear, you can then calculate with absolute certainty where it will meet up on the next gear every rotation.
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