What would it take to establish a settlement on the Red Planet?

  • NASA and its partners have set a goal to put humans on Mars. Leading scientists, engineers, and innovators are pioneering the research and development of space technology to make that dream a reality.

    These thinkers need to design, develop, and build a viable human outpost on another planet. The spaceship will need to land safely, be reused, and function, at least temporarily, as a basecamp. Scientists must devise a method for astronauts to obtain breathable air and drinkable water, and engineers must establish a reliable source of power for the first settlement on Mars. 

    While a journey to explore Mars is perilous, many feel the benefits to humanity outweigh the risks.

    1. Why can you not live on Mars in a spaceship for a long period of time?

      Cosmic radiation, which is bad for human health, will eventually penetrate the hull of the spacecraft.

    2. Name three things the first pioneers will need to survive on the Martian surface.

      Astronauts on Mars will need a renewable supply of oxygen, water, power, and food in addition to a place to live in order to survive in the harsh Martian environment. 

    3. Why would a basecamp on Mars need to be self-sustaining?

      Answers will vary! Responses may include:

      • Mars and Earth are, on average, 225 million kilometers (155 million miles) apart. Supplies from Earth would take a long time (approximately nine months) to arrive.
      • Spacecraft traveling between Mars and Earth would have a limited amount of storage space for supplies.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    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).

    humanity Noun

    condition of being human, including the study of art, literature, philosophy, and the sciences.

    journey Noun

    voyage or trip.

    Mars Noun

    fourth planet from the sun, between Earth and Jupiter.

    NASA Noun

    (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

    outpost Noun

    settlement or station located in a remote area.

    oxygen Noun

    chemical element with the symbol O, whose gas form is 21% of the Earth's atmosphere.

    perilous Adjective

    dangerous.

    planet Noun

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

    Encyclopedic Entry: planet
    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.

    settlement Noun

    community or village.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.