NASA’s Journey to Mars is not simply a human exploration mission; it will bring together much of the best of what NASA does.
How do you get to Mars? You build a rocket, and go.
OK, it’s actually a bit more complex than that. A lot more complex, really. But that’s still a vitally important step. We’ll come back to why in a minute.
First, let’s talk about that “complex” part.
Mars is hard. Really hard.
To start with, Mars is far, far away. At its closest, it can come within 34 million miles of Earth, but that’s a once-in-millennia approach. Usually, if the distance gets within the low 50s, that’s really close. At farthest, Mars is about 250 million miles away. Distance means it takes time to get there.
As you travel that distance, there’s a giant ball of gas in the center of the solar system that really wants to kill you. Once you leave Earth, you’re being constantly bombarded with radiation from our own sun and distant stars.
Then there’s the fact that, if you wanted to design a planet that would be hard for humans to land on, Mars would be a good start. The atmosphere ...