Scientists and engineers estimate it will take about eight months for a Mars mission to travel to the Red Planet. What impact will eight months in microgravity have on astronauts and explorers?

Existing research on personnel deployed to the International Space Station suggests that time spent in microgravity causes significant changes to human physiology. So, scientists planning Mars missions are faced with big challenges: how to protect the human body during the months-long journey to Mars and ensure astronauts are in good physical condition upon arrival.

These challenges must be met before humans can undertake a journey to explore Mars.

  1. What are some planetary similarities between Mars and Earth?

    • Answer

      Mars and Earth both rotate once every 24 hours, both have seasons, and both have polar icecaps.

  2. What is the warmest it gets on Mars?

    • Answer

      Approximately  0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit)

  3. About how cold does it get on Mars?

    • Answer

      Approximately  -100° Celsius (-212° Fahrenheit)

  4. What are some planetary differences between Mars and Earth?

    • Answer

      Differences between Mars and Earth include the fact that humans cannot breathe the air on Mars, and Mars is colder and drier than Earth.

  5. What are some of the impacts of microgravity on the human body?

    • Answer

      Microgravity means the heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the body's extremities, bones demineralize, and the brain struggles to control balance and motion.

astronaut
Noun

person who takes part in space flights.

engineer
Noun

person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).

estimate
Verb

to guess based on knowledge of the situation or object.

gravity
Noun

physical force by which objects attract, or pull toward, each other.

International Space Station (ISS)
Noun

satellite in low-Earth orbit that houses several astronauts for months at a time.

Mars
Noun

fourth planet from the sun, between Earth and Jupiter.

personnel
Noun

employees or all people working toward a common goal.

physical
Adjective

having to do with the body.

physiology
Noun

study of activity in living organisms, including physical and chemical processes.

Noun

large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.

research
Noun

scientific observations and investigation into a subject, usually following the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion.

scientist
Noun

person who studies a specific type of knowledge using the scientific method.

significant
Adjective

important or impressive.