STARS Program – Group Projects

“Mission to Mars”

Objective: The year is 2030 and you’ve been selected to plan and execute the first human spaceflight mission to Mars to establish a base. It’s a big mission, so each aspect of the mission is broken up into four parts. You will form teams of three and each work on one topic to brainstorm, research and plan. On the final day of STARS, each of your groups will give a 15-minute visual presentation (slide, video, etc.) sharing your findings. This is a pioneering mission and there are no definite right answers. Use the provided resource links below, your own research techniques and creativity to formulate answers to the questions listed under each topic.

Topics

  1. Learn about your destination

Mars is the planet that most resembles Earth in our Solar System. But it’s still vastly different. What do we know about Mars that will help us prepare for our journey and increase the likelihood of a successful mission?

Questions to answer:

  • Why go to Mars in the first place? How will it benefit people?
  • What do we already know about Mars?
  • What do we expect to find there?
  • What are the potential threats/risks involved in living on Mars?
  • What kind of resources are present on Mars for human use?

Resources:

 

  1. Choose your crew members & spacecraft

Choosing the right crew members for a deep space mission can mean the difference between success or failure. Who will be the first astronauts to Mars? You get to choose! Remember, these crew members will be tasked with long-duration spaceflight, the rigors of extreme changes in environment, and living in isolated, close quarters for years to come. Choose wisely! 

Questions to answer:

  • Choose four capable women for your mission. Who will they be and why did you choose them? (Real people, imaginary, celebrities, yourselves?)
  • What kind of knowledge/education/skills will they have and why?
  • What character traits/qualities do they need to be an asset to the mission?
  • What kind of training must they undergo to prepare for spaceflight?
  • What kind of spacecraft will you travel in? (Choose an existing crewed spacecraft, or one that is a conceptual design, to carry your chosen astronauts to Mars.)

Resources:

 

  1. Create a flight plan

Chart your course! Spaceflight presents many challenges to humans and a deep-space mission will certainly involve great risks. How will you ensure your crew’s safe passage to Mars while also maintaining their physical and mental health?

Questions to answer:

  • How long will it take to get to Mars?
  • What kind of hazards/challenges in space should you prepare for?
  • How will your crewmembers stay mentally and physically healthy during the trip?
  • What types of foods will they eat and how will they stay hydrated?
  • How will they occupy their time/entertain themselves?

    Resources:

 

  1. Plan your arrival on Mars

Once your crewmembers arrive within Mars’ orbit, they will need to know where to land and how to obtain resources to support themselves and build shelter. Choose a landing site and decide how you will establish the first human settlement on Mars.

Questions to answer:

  • Where will you land and why?
  • What kind of habitat will you construct to live in?
  • How will you build? Where will you get the materials?
  • How will you feed yourselves?
  • What will your first message back to Earth be? (And how long will it take to get there?)

Resources: