The Mars Learning Adventure

First School on Mars Training: Jr. Astronauts, Scientists,Engineers, and Pilots

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Free Mars Society International 2021 Convention

Mars Society 24 th. Annual International Mars Society Convention


Our four-day event is free, and brings together prominent scientists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and space advocates to discuss the significance of the latest scientific discoveries, technological advances and political-economic-social developments that could affect plans for the human exploration and settlement of Mars. As always, the convention will involve a wide variety of timely plenary talks, panel discussions and public debates concerning key issues bearing on human Mars exploration.

Bob Barboza is Presenting  at the 2021 Mars Society Annual International  Convention

Session: 0-7  (5:00-5:30 PM),Thursday, October 14, 2021,  Barboza Training High School Tiger Teams for Simulated Mars Missions

Session: 0-10 (6:30-7:30  PM),Thursday, October 14, 2021,  Barboza: Can we grow food using Martian soil?  

Registration Information:

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Meet Test Pilot Ed Dwight

Ed Dwight

Space Force celebrates trailblazer

By Tech. Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published August 07, 2020

Ed Dwight came to the Ontario International Airport to  tell his story and to give our entire space and aviation a goo history lesson.

Gen. Jay Raymond, Space Force chief of space operations, congratulates Edward Dwight, sculptor and space pioneer, Aug. 5, 2020, at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia. Raymond awarded Dwight the Commander’s Public Service Award and inducted him as an honorary member of the Space Force during his visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by TSgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

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WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — — The past may be history, but the present and future still offer opportunity. On Aug. 5, 2020, the newest military branch inducted an honorary member: Edward Dwight.

Dwight is an American sculptor, author, and former test pilot. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1953 and separated as a captain in 1966. In 1961, he took the first steps toward improving diversity and talent in the U.S. Space program by becoming America’s first African-American astronaut candidate. This was a time of uncertainty where the color of a person’s skin mattered more than his or her skill.

“Someone took time to remember all of the interesting parts and pieces of my life and bring them to a national level,” he said during the induction ceremony hosted at the Pentagon. “I am shocked that, at this age, after going through all the stuff I went through in life, I’m getting this kind of recognition…”

After a successful period of time as a pilot, in 1961, the Kennedy administration selected Dwight for astronaut training. He completed the Experimental Test Pilot course and entered Aerospace Research Pilot training in preparation for Astronaut duties. He successfully completed the course and continued to perform duties as a fully qualified Aerospace Research Pilot. While in training, he faced obstacles due to his race, which derailed his chance to be the first African American in space. Dwight’s fight for equality was one of many trailblazing battles happening during the civil rights era.

The assassination of President Kennedy, his main sponsor in the oval office, and the curtailment of his space journey led to his separation from the Air Force. He then transitioned his passion for flying to his passion for sculpting. He memorialized and honored the legacy of great African Americans in his art, his sculptures a celebration of innovation and diversity of thought.

Dwight dedicated his skills to honor those who paved the way unknowing that he, too, was part of that legacy. Celebrating his contributions was just one of many things that happened during Dwight’s visit to the Pentagon.

“It was truly an honor to induct Mr. Edward Dwight into the newest military branch,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations U.S. Space Force. “He made history with his trailblazing and then proceeded to preserve history with his creativity.”

In a ceremony Raymond presented Dwight with the Commander’s Public Service Award, for his contributions to the U.S., space, and history during times of overt racism in the field of science. And yet, he was an example of excellence, embarking on a NASA-sponsored nationwide speaking tour encouraging young people to study science, engineering, and math.

“Today has been all about honoring all the things that I did, but I didn’t do any of these things for honors,” said Dwight. “It was about contributing in the best way I knew I could to this country.”

He continued to give to his country by inspiring the space professionals he met throughout the day at the Pentagon.

“It was an honor and humbling being able to meet someone who has accomplished so much in both air and space,” Maj. Jose Almanzar, Space Force strategic initiatives group. “It gives me strength to think about Mr. Dwight and how he had to deal with so much adversity and overcome so many obstacles.”

The visit to the Pentagon included time with the Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett, Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. Jay Raymond, and former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. The visit finished with a meeting with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley.

Ed Dwight Was Going to Be the First African American in Space. Until He Wasn’t

The Kennedy administration sought a diverse face to the space program, but for reasons unknown, the pilot was kept from reaching the stars


<img src=”×600/filters:no_upscale():focal(663×160:664×161)/” alt=”Ed Dwight in Air Force uniform” itemprop=”image”>

Captain Edward J. Dwight, Jr., the first African American selected as a potential astronaut, looks over a model of Titan rockets in November 1963. (Bettmann Archive / Getty Images)

By Shareef Jackson


FEBRUARY 18, 2020

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In the early 1960s, U.S. Air Force pilot Ed Dwight was drowning in mail. “I received about 1,500 pieces of mail a week, which were stored in large containers at Edwards Air Force Base. Some of it came to my mother in Kansas City,” Dwight, now 86, recalls. Fans from around the world were writing to congratulate Dwight on becoming the first African American astronaut candidate. “Most of my mail was just addressed to Astronaut Dwight, Kansas City, Kansas.”

The letters, however, were premature. Dwight would never get the opportunity to go to space—despite the publicity and hype—for reasons that remain unclear even to this day.

Dwight was working at the time as a test pilot at Edwards in the Mojave Desert of California, the U.S. Air Force’s premier experimental flight base and a pathway to entering the astronaut corps of NASA. He trained in the Aerospace Research Pilot School, run by aviation icon Chuck Yeager, the first person to break the sound barrier. Edwards holds a legendary status, then and now, as the premier flight test facility of the Air Force, where the likes of Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper, two of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, and Neil Armstrong, selected in the second group of astronauts, trained as test pilots in experimental jets over the vast high desert that often served as an impromptu runway. During his time at Edwards, Dwight flew jets such as the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, a supersonic aircraft capable of soaring into the high atmosphere where the pilot could observe the curvature of the Earth.

“The first time you do this it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what the hell? Look at this,’” Dwight recently told the New York Times. “You can actually see this beautiful blue layer that the Earth is encased in. It’s absolutely stunning.”

Dwight’s participation in the astronaut selection process caught the attention of many, including Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League, who booked speaking tours and interviews for Dwight with black publications across the country, such as Ebony and Jet. As the eyes of America were on the space race, the eyes of Black America were specifically on Dwight.

The national attention led to increased public pressure for Dwight to be selected as a NASA astronaut. The Kennedy administration, which campaigned strongly on civil rights issues, had already taken an active interest in Dwight’s career, seeing his potential as an important symbolic achievement for both the White House and the nation.

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin completed one orbit of the Earth in his spaceship Vostok 1, becoming the first human in space. The flight captured the imagination of the world, and Edward R. Murrow, a former broadcast journalist who had become Kennedy’s director of the United States Information Agency, came up with an idea to recapture American prestige in the final frontier.

In September of that year, four months after the United States sent its first astronaut into space, Murrow wrote to NASA administrator James Webb: “Why don’t we put the first non-white man in space? If your boys were to enroll and train a qualified Negro and then fly him in whatever vehicle is available, we could retell our whole space effort to the whole non-white world, which is most of it.”

Around this time, Kennedy encouraged leaders in all the military branches to work to improve diversity among their officers. When the first group of NASA astronauts were selected in 1959, the nation’s military officer pilots, initially the only people who could apply to be astronauts, included no people of color. But as Murrow advocated for a black astronaut, Dwight was rising to the rank of captain in the Air Force, armed with an aeronautics degree from Arizona State University and enough flying hours to qualify for the flight test school at Edwards.

* * *

U.S. Surgeon: This Simple Trick Empties Almost Immediately Your Bowels Every Morning

Edward Joseph Dwight Jr. was born on September 9, 1933, in Kansas City, Kansas. From a young age he showed a particular interest in art.

“I was drawing and tracing cartoons in newspapers at the age of 2,” Dwight says in an interview. “I had a library card at 4, and soon I was studying the great masters such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. I did my first oil painting at 8.”

And Dwight had another early passion outside of art: airplanes. “I hung around the local hangar and began cleaning out airplanes around 5 or 6 years old,” he says. “I wanted to fly by the time I was around 9 or 10.” Growing up in segregated Kansas, Dwight doubted that he would ever get the chance to pilot an aircraft himself, but then one day he saw a photo of a black pilot who had been shot down in Korea. “He was standing on a wing of a jet, and he was a prisoner of war,” Dwight recalled to the Times, “and I was like, Oh my God, they’re letting black folks fly jets.”

Dwight’s mother, Georgia Baker Dwight, wanted her children to attend the private Catholic high school Bishop Ward in their hometown of Kansas City. But Bishop Ward had an established system of white feeder middle schools, and had no desire to bring in African Americans, which would likely cause existing students to leave.

“At the time, I had been an altar boy since the age of 5. There were no black Catholic high schools in the area,” Dwight says. “My mother wrote first to a church in Cincinnati, and they claimed to have no power over the local church. Then she wrote the Vatican directly, and they ordered the school to integrate.”

Dwight’s admittance to Bishop Ward opened up new opportunities, but the racial prejudices of the late 1940s and early 1950s shaped his experiences at the school. “We integrated the high school without the National Guard,” he says. “They put me in a training class to deal with white people,” where the advice included, “Don’t look a white girl in the eye.”

“There were 850 students on my first day of school,” Dwight says. “Three hundred dropped out soon after I showed up.”

While his artistic skills eventually led to a scholarship offer from the Kansas City Art Institute, Dwight says that his father “sat me down and said you’re going to be an engineer, because they make more money.” After becoming the first African American male to graduate from Bishop Ward in 1951, Dwight completed an associate’s degree in Engineering in 1953 from Kansas City Junior College. That same year he enlisted in the Air Force.

Edward Dwight Jr. was an ace combat pilot with a top aeronautics degree and 2,000 flying hours under his belt. In 1962, he was announced as a candidate to become America’s first black astronaut.

U.S. Surgeon: This Simple Trick Empties Almost Immediately Your Bowels Every Morning

As Dwight progressed steadily in the Air Force, with stints at bases in Texas, Missouri and Arizona, he helped develop technical manuals and train fellow pilots on various aircraft instruments, racking up flight hours all the while. Even so, he was told that he would not be eligible to be a squad leader. “They didn’t want to make a short, black guy squad leader,” he says. “They told me that country boys wouldn’t want to follow me, so I became the number two guy to the squad leader. [But] I wouldn’t allow those white guys to outdo me in anything.”

While in the service, Dwight continued his education, graduating with an aeronautical engineering degree from Arizona State University in 1957. He flew some of the most advanced aircraft of the era and would ultimately accumulate over 9,000 hours of flight time, 2,000 in high-performance jets. His engineering background and extensive training opened the door for him to enter the test pilot school at Edwards.

The end of 1957 was also a pivotal moment in history, as the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 on October 4. Designed as a science experiment, the satellite still scared U.S. leaders about the potential of the Soviets developing advanced nuclear capability. Lyndon B. Johnson, then majority leader of the U.S. Senate, remarked that the Soviets could soon “be dropping bombs on us from space like kids dropping rocks onto cars from freeway overpasses.”

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Training Tiger Teams for Mars Missions



Understanding the tiger team approach

Reading time: about 7 min

Posted by: Lucid Content Team

Big problems don’t always need big teams to solve them. In fact, small, agile teams of experts are often the key to solving your biggest issues. That’s when you should consider changing up your typical organizational structure and organizing tiger teams.

Next time you’re facing “mission critical,” consider forming a tiger team to get in, get out, and get your business back on track.

What is a tiger team?

A tiger team is a specialized, cross-functional team brought together to solve or investigate a specific problem or critical issue.

The term “tiger team” originates from the military and was made famous by NASA who deployed a tiger team during the Apollo 13 mission in 1970. During the Apollo 13 lunar landing mission, part of the Service Module malfunctioned and exploded. NASA formed a select technical team tasked with solving the issue and bringing the astronauts safely home. This “Tiger Team” later won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for their work on that successful mission.

Today, tiger teams are a popular and effective team structure for organizations who need a focused group of experts to manage technical deployments and solve complex issues. 

When to build a tiger team

Tiger teams are formed to help solve a critical issue after the most likely solutions have been attempted. Tiger teams usually focus on important, high-profile, high-impact, mission-critical projects. (In other words, you wouldn’t form a tiger team to tackle your regular day-to-day projects—think of them more like an elite force.)

Tiger teams may be formed to address projects that are failing or blocked in some way, or they could be formed to work on new projects developed in response to opportunities with high potential (e.g., high revenue or business potential).

Once the project is complete, the members of the tiger team disperse and return to their original departments and roles.   

Who makes up a tiger team?

Who you assign to your tiger team will depend on the team’s objective and the problem to solve. However, a tiger team will typically include a small variety of subject-matter experts (often senior-level) from business development, operations, finance, legal, engineering, and even sales and marketing. 

Keep in mind that while this is a team of specialists, each person should have a broad range of skills. By building a roster of “the best of the best,” you reduce skills gaps and blind spots and increase agility. Including team members with hyper-nuanced specialties without broader experience can lead to bloated headcounts and slower maneuvering.  

You will also want to assign a corporate sponsor to the group to help secure any needed resources, funding, and additional personnel throughout the project.

Why use a tiger team?

Tiger teams have several advantages that make them an appealing option when critical issues arise.

They are made up of mature experts who understand the problem (including the risks and stakes), know what to do and how to do it, and work well with other people and departments. Tiger teams are also small, agile, and cross-functional, so they can make and act on decisions with both speed and precision. 

Because of their cross-functional expertise, tiger teams can approach a problem from multiple perspectives and understand how it all integrates, making it easier to identify and focus on the most critical and high-priority items.  

How to form an effective tiger team

Follow these steps to build your tiger team.

1. Identify the problem to solve

Before you form your tiger team, you first have to identify what problem they will tackle. Do you need a team to streamline a technology deployment? Or maybe there’s an important project that is over-budget and under-delivered that is threatening your client experience.

Evaluate your business needs and opportunities to assess which projects or priorities could use the expertise and agility of your tiger team.  

2. Clarify the needed skills and experience

Once you know what problem you’re trying to solve, you can figure out what skills or expertise is needed to address those issues. 

A highly technical project may require a tiger team with an engineering or tech-heavy background. While a broader business issue might need the combined experience of team members from more diverse roles across the organization. The nature of the project will direct how focused or broad the skillsets are in your tiger team. 

3. Identify your key players

Based on the skills and experience needed for your project, identify who in your organization has the expertise to fill the limited tiger team roster. Tiger team candidates are often easy to spot—they tend to be employees or contractors with maturity in the industry and seniority in the organization. In other words, they aren’t rookies.

In smaller companies, creating a shortlist is usually quick and easy. However, if you are part of a larger organization, narrowing down the list can be trickier. 

Lucidchart can help you identify and assign team members where their skill sets will have the most impact. Import employee data to automatically generate an org chart, use conditional formatting to highlight preferred skills or roles, and switch to a view of your tiger teams with smart containers. Learn more.



And if you haven’t already, consider drafting a staffing plan. A staffing plan can help you map out your organization and discover what experience your staff currently has and uncover any existing skills gaps. Understanding your organization’s staffing levels is the first step to understanding and identifying your organization’s greatest personnel assets. 

The tiger team approach

With your tiger team in place, you are ready to hit the ground running. To give your team the best chance of success and increase their effectiveness in the field, follow these steps.

  1. Observe and document symptoms and their impact.
  2. Identify possible causes.
  3. Develop tests to validate those causes.
  4. Decide which tests to perform based on organizational priorities.
  5. Conduct testing until root cause is confirmed.
  6. Outline possible solutions.
  7. Agree on a solution and implement it. 
  8. Document results.

This approach helps keep your team on track and maximize results. 

Common mistakes to avoid

Although tiger teams are ostensibly your “best of the best,” they may still run into obstacles or mistakes that can slow progress and hinder their effectiveness. Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for when running a tiger team.

No strategic direction

The team needs to approach every problem strategically to ensure resource optimization and overall effectiveness. Without a clear understanding of the problem and a strategic approach, the team will bounce around chasing different symptoms and solutions.

Failure to define the problem and all its symptoms clearly

In order to solve a problem, the team has to understand the problem and all its symptoms clearly. Each person should be aligned in their understanding and have equal access to information so that everyone is working from the same knowledge base. 

Scope creep

The team may initially focus on the original problem, but discussions can wander and veer off into other issues that may be related but are not central to the task at hand. Scope creep distracts the team from the core problem (and therefore the ideal solutions), slowing progress and wasting resources. 

Lack of documentation

One of the benefits of a tiger team is their ability to drill down to the root cause of an issue and solve it at the foundation. But if the team is not documenting their processes, solutions, and learnings, that work can’t be capitalized on throughout the organization. 

Tiger teams are a great way to address critical issues with speed and agility. Use these tips to maximize your team’s effectiveness and keep your organization running smoothly.


See the way your people work best.
Visualize your employee data in
Lucidchart to form the perfect cross-functional team.

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Autonomous Underwater Robots Could Cause Deadly Accidents, Warns UN Think Tank

The “U” in U-boat now stands for “unmanned”



The next sea change in naval warfare may be unmanned, autonomous robots. In a new white paper published by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, an internal think tank, the fear isn’t the reaper, but the self-steering submarine. The UN’s biggest concern: not only are conflicts likely to happen in coastal waters or contested seas, but the unique nature of the ocean means that it’s well-suited for war with autonomous killing machines.Top Articlesby Popular ScienceBest dog vitamins: Nutrients and supplements to boost your pet’s healthDaily deals: Amazon Prime Day deals you won’t want to missREAD MOREPrime Day preview: Amazon Prime Day 2021 hacks to get the best deals onlinePuppies are born ready to communicate with peopleHere’s how to create the portable workstation of your dreamsThe number of states with rising COVID rates doubled in the last weekAmazon Prime Day Sales | Best Daily Deals | Popular Science deals: Amazon Prime Day deals you won’t want to miss

One reason the sea is ripe for robot warriors is because remote control under water is harder than it is in the air. While current drones navigate by GPS and relay signals through radio or satellite uplink, those signals don’t travel as well through the sea. An autonomous submarine, instead, could operate for days underwater, returning to the surface to transmit the data it collected and receive new instructions. Boeing has already built and the U.S. Navy is looking to buy a similar, maybe identical, large autonomous submarine to scout the sea and report back. Rather than competing for bandwidth in a crowded sky, unmanned sea robots will work on their own, without a need for step-by-step handholding.

Titled “The Weaponization of Increasingly Autonomous Technologies in the Maritime Environment: Testing the Waters,” the white paper isn’t just concerned with submarines. Aegis autonomous anti-missile weapons have served on American ships for decades. These missile systems work faster than humans possibly can to detect and fire upon incoming targets. However, their risk became clear in 1988 when an American ship accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people on board.

Deadly underwater autonomous weapons date back farther than that. Sea mines, explosives placed in the ocean and designed to destroy ships, date back centuries, and since World War II, they’ve damaged four times as many U.S. Navy vessels as anything else. In a twist on the sea mine of old, DARPA wants underwater pods that wait until activated, and then launch drones from the ocean.

There are several big risks that come with newer, smarter, and more sea weapons. The first is simply tracking them; sea mines from WWII remain a problem in parts of the ocean to this day, and staying current with every deadly weapon, especially the ones a nation might want to keep secret, is a challenging task. Another risk is accidents, like the 1988 misfiring of the Aegis system. More so than any other weapon, an autonomous machine risks acting in a way that the humans responsible for it don’t want. And there are environmental concerns. We already know bears don’t like drones flying near them; how well will whales take to mechanical beasts moving in their midst? Or what if opposing robots fighting a human war under the sea poison a protected reef in the process?

This report joins others, like one from Washington DC’s Center for New American Security, that seek to define the terms of autonomous systems before they’re widely in use. Without even a basic attempt by policy makers to understand the issue, the future is likely one of robot ships, borne into war on tides of darkness.

[Via Defense One]

Kelsey D. Atherton

Kelsey D. Athertonis a defense technology journalist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His work on drones, lethal AI, and nuclear weapons has appeared in Slate, The New York Times, Foreign Policy, and elsewhere.

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Flying on Mars

Mars Ingenuity helicopter.

Mar 31, 2021

NASA Aeronautics on Mars (and Earth)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover successfully landed on the Red Planet on Feb. 18. The probe is carrying a small helicopter called Ingenuity that could result in the Martian equivalent of the Wright Brothers first historic flight on Earth.

A small team of NASA’s aeronautical innovators contributed their expertise to help the Ingenuity team hopefully achieve mission success. For a full look at the Mars mission, including the latest news and pictures, we invite you to keep an eye on the NASA homepage or the Mars Perseverance Rover webpage. In the meantime, enjoy these links to content related to Aeronautics’ involvement with Ingenuity and helicopters in general, including STEM activities at the bottom of the page.

NASA’s Aeronautics Experts Help Prepare Ingenuity to Fly on Mars
A team of NASA helicopter experts from the Ames Research Center in California assisted the Ingenuity team in making sure the technology demonstrator had the best chance for success in flying in the super thin atmosphere of the Red Planet. Read about their work here. one-hour seminar about the specific technical work done for Ingenuity by the NASA Aeronautics team at NASA’s Ames Research Center and NASA’s Langley Research Center.

NASA is With You When You Fly, Even on Mars
According to the 1958 law that established NASA, where the first “A” in NASA stands for aeronautics, the agency is charged with solving the problems of flight within the atmosphere. But the law doesn’t say which planet’s atmosphere. Here is an introduction from 2019 about NASA Aeronautics’ work on the Mars Helicopter.

Four Ways NASA in Silicon Valley is Helping NASA’s Next Mars Mission
Groundbreaking technologies aboard NASA’s Mars 2020 mission have roots right here in Silicon Valley. Read on to learn more!

Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology Project
NASA’s work on helicopter technology dates back to its predecessor organization, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Catch up with what’s going on with the rotor dynamics researchers here. Mars Helicopter is a technology demonstration that will travel to the Red Planet with the Mars 2020 rover. It will attempt controlled flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere, which may enable more ambitious missions in the future.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Back on Earth: Advanced Air Mobility Mission
It will be a long, long time before any resident on Mars can order the latest book online and have it delivered to their front door by one of hundreds of drones darting about the sky on any given day. But for us Earthlings that future is much closer than you think. NASA Aeronautics is leading the way to make what’s called Advanced Air Mobility a reality. Read about our mission here.

Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit
Here is a collection of online STEM-related products about the Mars 2020 mission with Perseverance and Ingenuity. It includes hands-on activities, interactive multimedia, lesson plans and activities, play and learn, posters, read about it, and videos. There’s something here for educators, parents, and students from Kindergarten through High School.

STEM Aeronautics Activities Related to Ingenuity

Most of these activities are available from the Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit listed above, but here are links to some of those that are directly related to aeronautics.

Despite the difference in planets involved, Ingenuity’s planned, and the Wright Brothers’ historic, first powered, controlled flights have a lot of similarities. These include the process of invention and testing, as well as embodying the spirit of innovation and exploration. In addition to the Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit activities listed above, the following resources can be used to further explore the processes and science associated with flight, especially vertical flight as Ingenuity on Mars and helicopters on Earth are designed to do.

Wright Brothers resources

Aeronautics for Pre-K, which includes a section on helicopters

Mars Perseverance Parachute Coding Activity
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Rotorcraft (English)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Rotorcraft (Spanish)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Tilt Rotor (English)
NASA Contributions to Aviation: Tilt Rotor (Spanish)
Aeronautics @ Home Ingenuity activities:
Build Your Own Mars Helicopter
Out for a Spin
Four Forces of Flight
Drone Maze
Ingenuity Coloring Page
Advanced Air Mobility STEM Module you know that NASA’s aeronautical innovators had a hand in the creation of the first flying vehicle on Mars? They performed detailed work in areas such as performance predictions, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, control law validation, and experimental analysis. Watch this video to learn more.Credits: NASA

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California work with Ingenuity.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California work with Ingenuity during its development, a years-long process that was aided by some of the agency’s experts in rotor dynamics.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Watch the video from which this image was captured.Last Updated: Apr 1, 2021Editor: Lillian Gipson

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Who Remembers Star Trek?


The Nichelle Nichols Documentary: WOMAN IN MOTION is out and Streaming Across the Universe!

My good friend Ivor Dawson from the “Traveling Space Museum.” Is in this new documentary.  He has been supporting Nichelle Nichols for several years and he is currently helping me with the Barboza Space Center’s First School on Mars astronaut training program.   I am suggesting to all of my followers to take a look at this new documentary on Amazon Prime.  Nichelle. From Star

A Message from Ivor Dawson:

The wait is over. Woman in Motion has been released—just in time for Women in History Month.  If you’re a Star Trek or Nichelle Nichols fan or a friend of mine or Traveling Space Museum—this movie is great—and I’m not saying this because I’m in it! Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95% rating and it’s #5 on iTunes’ Documentaries List.  The film is already a hit! George Lucas loved the project so much that he offered his services at Skywalker Ranch to mix the sound—so we know that the force is with us! 

As a friend, confidante and speechwriter for Ms. Nichols for more than two decades, the producers thought that I might have a few thoughts to contribute.  And speaking of George Lucas,  a year ago, when the film was completed—about a week before COVID arrived, the producers and I autographed a Woman in Motion lobby poster that went to our friends at Skywalker Ranch. Seeing my name on the official poster was another surprise thrill.   

Right now, you can catch Woman in Motion streaming on iTunes for rent or sale and on Amazon Prime video. Many who saw it on Amazon Prime were able to see it for free!

Hope you all can catch it soon. And when you do, please write and tell me what you think. Live long and prosper!


I would love to get your feedback of this documentary and if you want more like this stay tuned to Kids Talk Talk Radio Science with some of the links below.

All the best,

Bob Barboza

 Kids Talk Radio Science

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Astrobotonists we need your help growing seeds on Mars

Contact: Bob Barboza at The article below will give you an idea of what others are doing.

Seeds on Mars

Growing plants on the surface of the Moon and MarsResearchers tested the growth of 10 different common food crops in simulated regolith, a rocky substance lacking organic material found on the surface of Mars and the Moon.

Posted on  by Jéssica Carneiro Oliveira

The reality of being able to live and settle on Martian or lunar bases can seem like it is getting close. To do this, we need to be able to grow our own food there. This is a category of space agriculture called in-situ resource utilization, a fancy way of saying “using what is already there instead of bringing along hydroponic systems.” Developing and improving these farming techniques will be necessary. Dutch researchers tested ten species of common crop cultivars, including: tomatoes, rye, watercress, leeks, quinoa, peas, radish, spinach, arugula and chives on regolith that simulates Martian and lunar ground in order to verify it is possible.

But what is regolith? There is actually no soil on the Moon or Mars, because soil contains organic matter, which comes from life. Regolith is just the mineral part. We can’t get real regolith from space, so the lunar regolith was produced from volcanic ash deposited near Flagstaff, Arizona and the Martian regolith was made from material present on a volcano in Hawaii with a chemical composition like what the Viking spacecraft found on Mars. Real lunar and Martian regolith seem to contain all the essential ingredients for plant growth. However, there is a small amount of reactive nitrogen and growing food in it requires a large amount of water. Regolith can only store 30% of the water that organic soil of the Earth can store.

Wamelink conducted this and other experiments using simulated lunar and Martian regolith, which is different from soil because it contains no organic material. It’s just rock. Source: Wikimedia Commons

To carry out the experiment, organic matter was added to the regolith to provide nutrients. The experimental set-up included three trays (with holes in the bottom) containing the Mars regolith, three trays with lunar regolith, and three terrestrial soil trays. The number of seeds varied for each of the ten species and the experiment lasted a total of five months. Plants were watered once a day.

The viable seeds resulting from this experiment allow scientists to study the harvest cycle and learn if it is possible to grow subsequent generations of seedlings. These seeds must be vigorous enough to support the plant life cycle and continue producing large harvests.

Several harvests produced fruit and seeds in Mars and lunar regolith. Successful plants included tomatoes, rye, peas, and radish. Some of the plants managed to grow in all three types of growing media. Nine of the ten species grew well overall, except for spinach. Vegetable biomass was higher in Martian regolith and in terrestrial soil than in lunar regolith.

Adding organic matter to the regolith improves plant growth, however. The ideal amount and type of organic matter needed to enrich regolith is not yet known, nor is the appropriate amount of water. For the cultivation of plants in regolith to be promising, many studies must be carried out to find the best way to recycle organic matter through biological elements such as human feces, worms, fungi, and bacteria. These organic materials are needed to provide nitrogen essential for plant growth. We are a long way from farming in regolith, but there is a path forward.


Study Information

Original study:  Crop growth and viability of seeds on Mars and Moon soil simulants.

Study published on: 02 Oct 2019

Study author(s): G.W.W. Wamelink, J.Y. Frissel , W.H.J. Krijnen and M.R. Verwoert.

The study was done at: Open Agriculture

The study was funded by: Wageningen University and Research, Rijk Zwaan, Nipak BV and Polderworm. 

Raw data availability: Not available.

Featured image credit: “KSC-20200115-PH-JBS01_0054” by NASAKennedy is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
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We need help creating the first school on Mars


The Colonization of Mars

Getting Students Ready to Colonize Mars (The First School on Mars).

You can think of me as the first superintendent of schools on Mars.  My mission is to get the students, parents, teachers, principals, and support staff ready for the new bold adventure.  I want to share the article below to help your mind to get ready for this adventure.  If you want to continue the conversation send your email to me

I want to share some of the wonderful research below that you can find on the Internet under the colonization of Mars.

We all need your ideas on this topic.

Bob Barboza, Superintendent

First School on Mars

Mars is the focus of much scientific study about possible human colonization. Mars’s surface conditions and past presence of liquid water make it arguably the most hospitable planet in the Solar System besides Earth. Mars requires less energy per unit mass (delta-v) to reach from Earth than any planet, other than Venus.

Permanent human habitation on other planets, including Mars, is one of science fiction’s most prevalent themes. As technology advances, and concerns about humanity’s future on Earth increase, arguments favoring space colonization gain momentum.[2][3] Other reasons for colonizing space include economic interests, long-term scientific research best carried out by humans as opposed to robotic probes, and sheer curiosity.

Both private and public organizations have made commitments to researching the viability of long-term colonization efforts and to taking steps toward a permanent human presence on Mars. Space agencies engaged in research or mission planning include NASA, Roscosmos, and the China National Space Administration. Private organizations include SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing.

Mission concepts and timelines

All of the early human mission concepts to Mars as conceived by national governmental space programs—such as those being tentatively planned by NASA, Rocosmos and ESA—would not be direct precursors to colonization. They are intended solely as exploration missions, as the Apollo missions to the Moon were not planned to be sites of a permanent base.

SpaceX (expedition base)

As of 2018, SpaceX is funding and developing a series of Mars-bound cargo flights with the Starship and Super Heavy as early as 2022, followed by the first crewed flight to Mars on the next launch window in 2024.[5][6][7] During the first phase, the goal will be to launch several BFRs to transport and assemble a methane/oxygen propellant plant and to build up a base in preparation for an expanded surface presence.[8] A successful colonization would ultimately involve many more economic factors—whether individuals, companies, or governments—to facilitate the growth of the human presence on Mars over many decades.[9][10][11]

Relative similarity to Earth

Earth is similar to Venus in bulk composition, size and surface gravity, but Mars’s similarities to Earth are more compelling when considering colonization. These include:

  • The Martian day (or sol) is very close in duration to Earth’s. A solar day on Mars is 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35.244 seconds.[12]
  • Mars has a surface area that is 28.4% of Earth’s, only slightly less than the amount of dry land on Earth (which is 29.2% of Earth’s surface). Mars has half the radius of Earth and only one-tenth the mass. This means that it has a smaller volume (~15%) and lower average density than Earth.
  • Mars has an axial tilt of 25.19°, similar to Earth’s 23.44°. As a result, Mars has seasons much like Earth, though on average they last nearly twice as long because the Martian year is about 1.88 Earth years. The Martian north pole currently points at Cygnus, not Ursa Minor like Earth’s.
  • Recent observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Phoenix Lander confirm the presence of water ice on Mars.

Differences from Earth

  • Although there are some extremophile organisms that survive in hostile conditions on Earth, including simulations that approximate Mars, plants and animals generally cannot survive the ambient conditions present on the surface of Mars.[14]
  • Surface gravity of Mars is 38% that of Earth. Although microgravity is known to cause health problems such as muscle loss and bone demineralization,[15][16] it is not known if Martian gravity would have a similar effect. The Mars Gravity Biosatellite was a proposed project designed to learn more about what effect Mars’s lower surface gravity would have on humans, but it was cancelled due to a lack of funding.[17]
  • Mars is much colder than Earth, with mean surface temperatures between 186 and 268 K (−87 and −5 °C; −125 and 23 °F) (depending on position).[18][19] The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 180 K (−89.2 °C, −128.6 °F) in Antarctica.
  • Water on Mars is incredibly scarce, with rovers Spirit and Opportunity finding less than there is in Earth’s driest desert.[20] Surface water on Mars may occur transiently, but only under certain conditions.[21][22]
  • Because Mars is about 52% farther from the Sun, the amount of solar energy entering its upper atmosphere per unit area (the solar constant) is only around 43.3% of what reaches the Earth’s upper atmosphere.[23] However, due to the much thinner atmosphere, a higher fraction of the solar energy reaches the surface.[24][25][26] The maximum solar irradiance on Mars is about 590 W/m2 compared to about 1000 W/m2 at the Earth’s surface.
  • Global dust storms are common throughout the year and cover the entire planet for weeks, blocking sunlight from reaching the surface.[27][28] This has been observed to cause temperature drops of 4 °C (7 °F) for several months after the storm.[29] In contrast the only comparable events on Earth are infrequent large volcanic eruptions such as Krakatoa which threw large amounts of ash into the atmosphere in 1883, causing a global temperature drop of around 1 °C (2 °F). Perhaps more importantly these storms affect electricity production from solar panels for long periods, as well interfering with communications with Earth.[30]
  • Mars has no rain and virtually no clouds, so although cold, it is permanently sunny (apart from during dust storms – see Climate of Mars). This means solar panels can always operate at maximum efficiency on dust-free days.
  • Mars’s orbit is more eccentric than Earth’s, increasing temperature and solar constant variations over the course of the Martian year.
  • Due to the lack of a magnetosphere, solar particle events and cosmic rays can easily reach the Martian surface.[31][32][33]
  • The atmospheric pressure on Mars is far below the Armstrong limit at which people can survive without pressure suits. Since terraforming cannot be expected as a near-term solution, habitable structures on Mars would need to be constructed with pressure vessels similar to spacecraft, capable of containing a pressure between 30 and 100 kPa. See Atmosphere of Mars.
  • The Martian atmosphere is toxic, 95% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and traces of other gases including oxygen totaling less than 0.4%.
  • The thin atmosphere does not filter out ultraviolet sunlight, which causes instability in the molecular bonds between atoms. For example, ammonia (NH3) is not stable in the Martian atmosphere and breaks down after a few hours.[34]
  • Due to the thin atmosphere, the temperature difference between day and night is much larger than on Earth, typically around 70 °C (125 °F)[35] However, the day/night temperature variation is much lower during dust storms when very little light gets through to the surface even during the day, and instead warms the middle atmosphere.[30]
  • The Martian soil is toxic due to relatively high concentrations of chlorine and associated compounds which are hazardous to all known forms of life.[36][37]

Conditions for human habitation

Conditions on the surface of Mars are closer to the conditions on Earth in terms of temperature and sunlight than on any other planet or moon, except for the cloud tops of Venus.[38] However, the surface is not hospitable to humans or most known life forms due to the radiation, greatly reduced air pressure, and an atmosphere with only 0.1% oxygen.’


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In 2012, it was reported that some lichen and cyanobacteria survived and showed remarkable adaptation capacity for photosynthesis after 34 days in simulated Martian conditions in the Mars Simulation Laboratory (MSL) maintained by the German Aerospace Center (DLR).[39][40][41] Some scientists think that cyanobacteria could play a role in the development of self-sustainable crewed outposts on Mars.[42] They propose that cyanobacteria could be used directly for various applications, including the production of food, fuel and oxygen, but also indirectly: products from their culture could support the growth of other organisms, opening the way to a wide range of life-support biological processes based on Martian resources.[42]

Humans have explored parts of Earth that match some conditions on Mars. Based on NASA rover data, temperatures on Mars (at low latitudes) are similar to those in Antarctica.[43] The atmospheric pressure at the highest altitudes reached by piloted balloon ascents (35 km (114,000 feet) in 1961,[44] 38 km in 2012) is similar to that on the surface of Mars. However, the pilots were not exposed to the extremely low pressure, as it would have killed them, but seated in a pressurized capsule.[45]

Human survival on Mars would require living in artificial Mars habitats with complex life-support systems. One key aspect of this would be water processing systems. Being made mainly of water, a human being would die in a matter of days without it. Even a 5–8% decrease in total body water causes fatigue and dizziness and a 10% decrease physical and mental impairment (See Dehydration). A person on Earth uses 70–140 litres of water per day on average.[46] Through experience and training, astronauts on the ISS have shown it is possible to use far less, and that around 70% of what is used can be recycled using the ISS water recovery systems. Similar systems would be needed on Mars, but would need to be much more efficient, since regular robotic deliveries of water to Mars would be prohibitively expensive (the ISS is supplied with water four times per year). Some experts have argued for setting up open-air settlements by using special construction methodologies- like excavating deep into the Martian crust to depths where air pressures may be sufficient to allow humans to survive without pressurized suits.[47] Potential access to in-situ water (frozen or otherwise) via drilling has been investigated by NASA.[48]

Effects on human health

Mars presents a hostile environment for human habitation. Different technologies have been developed to assist long-term space exploration and may be adapted for habitation on Mars. The existing record for the longest consecutive space flight is 438 days by cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov,[49] and the most accrued time in space is 878 days by Gennady Padalka.[50] The longest time spent outside the protection of the Earth’s Van Allen radiation belt is about 12 days for the Apollo 17 moon landing. This is minor in comparison to the 1100-day journey[51] planned by NASA as soon as the year 2028. Scientists have also hypothesized that many different biological functions can be negatively affected by the environment of Mars colonies. Due to higher levels of radiation, there are a multitude of physical side-effects that must be mitigated.[52] In addition Martian soil contains high levels of toxins which are hazardous to human health.

Physical effects

The difference in gravity would negatively affect human health by weakening bones and muscles. There is also risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems. Current rotations on the International Space Station put astronauts in zero gravity for six months, a comparable length of time to a one-way trip to Mars. This gives researchers the ability to better understand the physical state that astronauts going to Mars would arrive in. Once on Mars, surface gravity is only 38% of that on Earth.[53] Upon return to Earth, recovery from bone loss and atrophy is a long process and the effects of microgravity may never fully reverse.

There are also severe radiation risks on Mars that can influence cognitive processes, deteriorate cardiovascular health, inhibit reproduction, and cause cancer.

Psychological effects


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Due to the communication delays, new protocols need to be developed in order to assess crew members’ psychological health. Researchers have developed a Martian simulation called HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) that places scientists in a simulated Martian laboratory to study the psychological effects of isolation, repetitive tasks, and living in close-quarters with other scientists for up to a year at a time. Computer programs are being developed to assist crews with personal and interpersonal issues in absence of direct communication with professionals on earth.[54] Current suggestions for Mars exploration and colonization are to select individuals who have passed psychological screenings. Psychosocial sessions for the return home are also suggested in order to reorient people to society.


Various works of fiction put forward the idea of terraforming Mars to allow a wide variety of life forms, including humans, to survive unaided on Mars’s surface. Some ideas of possible technologies that may be able to contribute to the actual terraforming of Mars have been conjectured, but none would be able to bring the entire planet into the Earth-like habitat pictured in science fiction.[55]


Mars has no global magnetosphere as Earth does. Combined with a thin atmosphere, this permits a significant amount of ionizing radiation to reach the Martian surface. The Mars Odyssey spacecraft carries an instrument, the Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE), to measure the radiation. MARIE found that radiation levels in orbit above Mars are 2.5 times higher than at the International Space Station. The average daily dose was about 220 μGy (22 mrad) – equivalent to 0.08 Gy per year.[56] A three-year exposure to such levels would be close to the safety limits currently adopted by NASA.[citation needed] Levels at the Martian surface would be somewhat lower and might vary significantly at different locations depending on altitude and local magnetic fields. Building living quarters underground (possibly in Martian lava tubes which are already present) would significantly lower the colonists’ exposure to radiation. Occasional solar proton events (SPEs) produce much higher doses.

Much remains to be learned about space radiation. In 2003, NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center opened a facility, the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory, at Brookhaven National Laboratory, that employs particle accelerators to simulate space radiation. The facility studies its effects on living organisms, as well as experimenting with shielding techniques.[60] Initially, there was some evidence that this kind of low level, chronic radiation is not quite as dangerous as once thought; and that radiation hormesis occurs.[61] However, results from a 2006 study indicated that protons from cosmic radiation may cause twice as much serious damage to DNA as previously estimated, exposing astronauts to greater risk of cancer and other diseases.[62] As a result of the higher radiation in the Martian environment, the summary report of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee released in 2009 reported that “Mars is not an easy place to visit with existing technology and without a substantial investment of resources.”[62] NASA is exploring a variety of alternative techniques and technologies such as deflector shields of plasma to protect astronauts and spacecraft from radiation.[62]

In September 2017, NASA reported radiation levels on the surface of the planet Mars were temporarily doubled, and were associated with an aurora 25-times brighter than any observed earlier, due to a massive, and unexpected, solar storm in the middle of the month.[63]


Interplanetary spaceflight

Mars requires less energy per unit mass (delta V) to reach from Earth than any planet except Venus. Using a Hohmann transfer orbit, a trip to Mars requires approximately nine months in space.[64] Modified transfer trajectories that cut the travel time down to four to seven months in space are possible with incrementally higher amounts of energy and fuel compared to a Hohmann transfer orbit, and are in standard use for robotic Mars missions. Shortening the travel time below about six months requires higher delta-v and an exponentially[clarification needed][an exponential function of what?] increasing amount of fuel, and is difficult with chemical rockets. It could be feasible with advanced spacecraft propulsion technologies, some of which have already been tested to varying levels, such as Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket,[65] and nuclear rockets. In the former case, a trip time of forty days could be attainable,[66] and in the latter, a trip time down to about two weeks.[4] In 2016, a University of California scientist said they could further reduce travel time for a robotic probe to Mars down to “as little as 72 hours” with the use of a “photonic propulsion” system instead of the fuel-based rocket propulsion system.[67]

During the journey the astronauts would be subject to radiation, which would require a means to protect them. Cosmic radiation and solar wind cause DNA damage, which increases the risk of cancer significantly. The effect of long-term travel in interplanetary space is unknown, but scientists estimate an added risk of between 1% and 19% (one estimate is 3.4%) for men to die of cancer because of the radiation during the journey to Mars and back to Earth. For women the probability is higher due to generally larger glandular tissues.[68]

Landing on Mars

Mars has a surface gravity 0.38 times that of Earth, and the density of its atmosphere is about 0.6% of that on Earth.[69] The relatively strong gravity and the presence of aerodynamic effects make it difficult to land heavy, crewed spacecraft with thrusters only, as was done with the Apollo Moon landings, yet the atmosphere is too thin for aerodynamic effects to be of much help in aerobraking and landing a large vehicle. Landing piloted missions on Mars would require braking and landing systems different from anything used to land crewed spacecraft on the Moon or robotic missions on Mars.[70]

If one assumes carbon nanotube construction material will be available with a strength of 130 GPa then a space elevator could be built to land people and material on Mars.[71] A space elevator on Phobos (a Martian moon) has also been proposed.[72]

Equipment needed for colonization

Colonization of Mars would require a wide variety of equipment—both equipment to directly provide services to humans and production equipment used to produce food, propellant, water, energy and breathable oxygen—in order to support human colonization efforts. Required equipment will include:[4]

  • Basic utilities (oxygen, power, local communications, waste disposal, sanitation and water recycling)
  • Habitats
  • Storage facilities
  • Shop workspaces
  • Airlock, for pressurization and dust management
  • Resource extraction equipment—initially for water and oxygen, later for a wider cross section of minerals, building materials, etc.
  • Equipment for energy production and energy storage, some solar and perhaps nuclear as well
  • Food production spaces and equipment.
  • Propellant production equipment, generally thought to be hydrogen and methane through the Sabatier reaction[73] for fuel—with oxygen oxidizer—for chemical rocket engines
  • Fuels or other energy source for use with surface transportation. Carbon monoxide/oxygen (CO/O2) engines have been suggested for early surface transportation use as both carbon monoxide and oxygen can be straightforwardly produced by zirconium dioxide electrolysis from the Martian atmosphere without requiring use of any of the Martian water resources to obtain hydrogen.[74]
  • Off planet communication equipment
  • Equipment for moving over the surface – Mars suit, crewed rovers and possibly even Mars aircraft.
  • According to Elon Musk, “even at a million people [working on Mars] you’re assuming an incredible amount of productivity per person, because you would need to recreate the entire industrial base on Mars… You would need to mine and refine all of these different materials, in a much more difficult environment than Earth”.[75]

Basic utilities

In order to function at all the colony would need the basic utilities to support human civilization. These would need to be designed to handle the harsh Martian environment and would either have to be serviceable whilst wearing an EVA suit or housed inside a human habitable environment. For example, if electricity generation systems rely on solar power, large energy storage facilities will also be needed to cover the periods when dust storms block out the sun, and automatic dust removal systems may be needed to avoid human exposure to conditions on the surface.[29] If the colony is to scale beyond a few people, systems will also need to maximise use of local resources to reduce the need for resupply from Earth, for example by recycling water and oxygen and being adapted to be able to use any water found on Mars, whatever form it is in.

Communication with Earth

Communications with Earth are relatively straightforward during the half-sol when Earth is above the Martian horizon. NASA and ESA included communications relay equipment in several of the Mars orbiters, so Mars already has communications satellites. While these will eventually wear out, additional orbiters with communication relay capability are likely to be launched before any colonization expeditions are mounted.

The one-way communication delay due to the speed of light ranges from about 3 minutes at closest approach (approximated by perihelion of Mars minus aphelion of Earth) to 22 minutes at the largest possible superior conjunction (approximated by aphelion of Mars plus aphelion of Earth). Real-time communication, such as telephone conversations or Internet Relay Chat, between Earth and Mars would be highly impractical due to the long time lags involved. NASA has found that direct communication can be blocked for about two weeks every synodic period, around the time of superior conjunction when the Sun is directly between Mars and Earth,[76] although the actual duration of the communications blackout varies from mission to mission depending on various factors—such as the amount of link margin designed into the communications system, and the minimum data rate that is acceptable from a mission standpoint. In reality most missions at Mars have had communications blackout periods of the order of a month.[77]

A satellite at the L4 or L5 Earth–Sun Lagrangian point could serve as a relay during this period to solve the problem; even a constellation of communications satellites would be a minor expense in the context of a full colonization program. However, the size and power of the equipment needed for these distances make the L4 and L5 locations unrealistic for relay stations, and the inherent stability of these regions, although beneficial in terms of station-keeping, also attracts dust and asteroids, which could pose a risk.[78] Despite that concern, the STEREO probes passed through the L4 and L5 regions without damage in late 2009.

Recent work by the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory, in collaboration with the European Space Agency, has suggested an alternative relay architecture based on highly non-Keplerian orbits. These are a special kind of orbit produced when continuous low-thrust propulsion, such as that produced from an ion engine or solar sail, modifies the natural trajectory of a spacecraft. Such an orbit would enable continuous communications during solar conjunction by allowing a relay spacecraft to “hover” above Mars, out of the orbital plane of the two planets.[79] Such a relay avoids the problems of satellites stationed at either L4 or L5 by being significantly closer to the surface of Mars while still maintaining continuous communication between the two planets.

Robotic precursors

The path to a human colony could be prepared by robotic systems such as the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity. These systems could help locate resources, such as ground water or ice, that would help a colony grow and thrive. The lifetimes of these systems would be years and even decades, and as recent developments in commercial spaceflight have shown, it may be that these systems will involve private as well as government ownership. These robotic systems also have a reduced cost compared with early crewed operations, and have less political risk.

Wired systems might lay the groundwork for early crewed landings and bases, by producing various consumables including fuel, oxidizers, water, and construction materials. Establishing power, communications, shelter, heating, and manufacturing basics can begin with robotic systems, if only as a prelude to crewed operations.

Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander MIP (Mars ISPP Precursor) was to demonstrate manufacture of oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars,[80] and test solar cell technologies and methods of mitigating the effect of Martian dust on the power systems.[81][needs update]

Before any people are transported to Mars on the notional 2030s Interplanetary Transport System envisioned by SpaceX, a number of robotic cargo missions would be undertaken first in order to transport the requisite equipment, habitats and supplies.[82] Equipment that would be necessary would include “machines to produce fertilizer, methane and oxygen from Mars’ atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide and the planet’s subsurface water ice” as well as construction materials to build transparent domes for initial agricultural areas.[83]


As with early colonies in the New World, economics would be a crucial aspect to a colony’s success. The reduced gravity well of Mars and its position in the Solar System may facilitate Mars–Earth trade and may provide an economic rationale for continued settlement of the planet. Given its size and resources, this might eventually be a place to grow food and produce equipment to mine the asteroid belt.

A major economic problem is the enormous up-front investment required to establish the colony and perhaps also terraform the planet. For Martian colonization to be successful and sustainable, Martian human settlements have to become viable economic units.[84][85] Since using physical money in space will be a costly process, it is thought that Blockchains and cryptocurrencies may be an option.[86][87]

Some early Mars colonies might specialize in developing local resources for Martian consumption, such as water and/or ice. Local resources can also be used in infrastructure construction.[88] One source of Martian ore currently known to be available is metallic iron in the form of nickel–iron meteorites. Iron in this form is more easily extracted than from the iron oxides that cover the planet.

Another main inter-Martian trade good during early colonization could be manure.[89] Assuming that life doesn’t exist on Mars, the soil is going to be very poor for growing plants, so manure and other fertilizers will be valued highly in any Martian civilization until the planet changes enough chemically to support growing vegetation on its own.

Solar power is a candidate for power for a Martian colony. Solar insolation (the amount of solar radiation that reaches Mars) is about 42% of that on Earth, since Mars is about 52% farther from the Sun and insolation falls off as the square of distance. But the thin atmosphere would allow almost all of that energy to reach the surface as compared to Earth, where the atmosphere absorbs roughly a quarter of the solar radiation. Sunlight on the surface of Mars would be much like a moderately cloudy day on Earth.[90]

Economic drivers

Space colonization on Mars can roughly be said to be possible when the necessary methods of space colonization become cheap enough (such as space access by cheaper launch systems) to meet the cumulative funds that have been gathered for the purpose.

Although there are no immediate prospects for the large amounts of money required for any space colonization to be available given traditional launch costs,[91][full citation needed] there is some prospect of a radical reduction to launch costs in the 2020s, which would consequently lessen the cost of any efforts in that direction. With a published price of US$62 million per launch of up to 22,800 kg (50,300 lb) payload to low Earth orbit or 4,020 kg (8,860 lb) to Mars,[92] SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets are already the “cheapest in the industry”.[93] SpaceX’s reusable plans include Falcon Heavy and future methane-based launch vehicles including the Interplanetary Transport System. If SpaceX is successful in developing the reusable technology, it would be expected to “have a major impact on the cost of access to space”, and change the increasingly competitive market in space launch services.[94]

Alternative funding approaches might include the creation of inducement prizes. For example, the 2004 President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy suggested that an inducement prize contest should be established, perhaps by government, for the achievement of space colonization. One example provided was offering a prize to the first organization to place humans on the Moon and sustain them for a fixed period before they return to Earth.[95]

Possible locations for settlements

Equatorial regions

Mars Odyssey found what appear to be natural caves near the volcano Arsia Mons. It has been speculated that settlers could benefit from the shelter that these or similar structures could provide from radiation and micrometeoroids. Geothermal energy is also suspected in the equatorial regions.[96]

Lava tubes

Several possible Martian lava tube skylights have been located on the flanks of Arsia Mons. Earth based examples indicate that some should have lengthy passages offering complete protection from radiation and be relatively easy to seal using on-site materials, especially in small subsections.[97]

Hellas Planitia

Hellas Planitia is the lowest lying plain below the Martian geodetic datum. The air pressure is relatively higher in this place when compared to the rest of Mars. Some analysts have calculated that one needs to drill into the Martian crust for around 16.5 kilometers at Hellas Planitia to achieve an air pressure equivalent to that on the summit of Mount Everest.[98] An open air human settlement can then be built within the Martian crust.

Planetary protection

Robotic spacecraft to Mars are required to be sterilized, to have at most 300,000 spores on the exterior of the craft—and more thoroughly sterilized if they contact “special regions” containing water,[99][100] otherwise there is a risk of contaminating not only the life-detection experiments but possibly the planet itself.

It is impossible to sterilize human missions to this level, as humans are host to typically a hundred trillion microorganisms of thousands of species of the human microbiome, and these cannot be removed while preserving the life of the human. Containment seems the only option, but it is a major challenge in the event of a hard landing (i.e. crash).[101] There have been several planetary workshops on this issue, but with no final guidelines for a way forward yet.[102] Human explorers would also be vulnerable to back contamination to Earth if they become carriers of microorganisms.[103]

Ethical, political and legal challenges

One possible ethical challenge that space travelers might face is that of pregnancy during the trip. According to NASA’s policies, it is forbidden for members of the crew to engage in sex in space. NASA wants its crewmembers to treat each other like coworkers would in a professional environment. A pregnant member on a spacecraft is dangerous to all those aboard. The pregnant woman and child would most likely need additional nutrition from the rations aboard, as well as special treatment and care. At some point during the trip, the pregnancy would most likely impede on the pregnant crew member’s duties and abilities. It is still not fully known how the environment in a spacecraft would affect the development of a child aboard. It is known however that an unborn child in space would be more susceptible to solar radiation, which would likely have a negative effect on its cells and genetics.[104] During a long trip to Mars it is likely that members of craft may engage in sex due to their stressful and isolated environment.[105]

It is unforeseen how the first human landing on Mars will change the current policies regarding the exploration of space and occupancy of celestial bodies. In the 1967, United Nations Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, it was determined that no country may take claim to space or its inhabitants. Since the planet Mars offers a challenging environment and dangerous obstacles for humans to overcome, the laws and culture on the planet will most likely be very different from those on Earth.[106] With Elon Musk announcing his plans for travel to Mars, it is uncertain how the dynamic of a private company possibly being the first to put a human on Mars will play out on a national and global scale.[107][108] NASA had to deal with several cuts in funding. During the presidency of Barack Obama, the objective for NASA to reach Mars was pushed to the background.[109] In 2017, president Donald Trump promised to return humans to the Moon and eventually Mars,[110] effectively taking action by increasing NASA budget with $1.1 billion,[111] and mostly focus on the development of the new Space Launch System.[112][113]


Mars colonization is advocated by several non-governmental groups for a range of reasons and with varied proposals. One of the oldest groups is the Mars Society who promote a NASA program to accomplish human exploration of Mars and have set up Mars analog research stations in Canada and the United States. Mars to Stay advocates recycling emergency return vehicles into permanent settlements as soon as initial explorers determine permanent habitation is possible. Mars One, which went public in June 2012, aims to coordinate – not build – a human colony on Mars by 2027 with funding coming from a reality TV show and other commercial exploitation, although this approach has been widely criticized as unrealistic and infeasible,[114][115][116] and bankrupted in 2019.[117]

Elon Musk founded SpaceX with the long-term goal of developing the technologies that will enable a self-sustaining human colony on Mars.[107][118] In 2015 he stated “I think we’ve got a decent shot of sending a person to Mars in 11 or 12 years”.[119] Richard Branson, in his lifetime, is “determined to be a part of starting a population on Mars. I think it is absolutely realistic. It will happen… I think over the next 20 years, we will take literally hundreds of thousands of people to space and that will give us the financial resources to do even bigger things”.[120]

In June 2013, Buzz Aldrin, American engineer and former astronaut, and the second person to walk on the Moon, wrote an opinion, published in The New York Times, supporting a human mission to Mars and viewing the Moon “not as a destination but more a point of departure, one that places humankind on a trajectory to homestead Mars and become a two-planet species.”[121] In August 2015, Aldrin, in association with the Florida Institute of Technology, presented a “master plan”, for NASA consideration, for astronauts, with a “tour of duty of ten years”, to colonize Mars before the year 2040.[122]

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John Lewis Helps to Save the Space Industry

What do I say when someone comes up to me after a talk?    Why Mars?  Bob Barboza

John Lewis Helps to Save the Space Industry

I am so happy to have receded this quote from the Mars Society today.   This John Lewis quote is going to help me in my everyday work. I have to talk to people about why I am so crazy in love with colonizing Mars.

Bob Barboza

The John Lewis Quote

Occasionally people will ask why the US is trying to save problems in space when we have so many problems on earth and in response, I can quote John Lewis who made the statement when voting to keep the space station alive. 

 “The USA can solve more than one problem at a time

dreaming and pursuing that dream.   As soon as we lose the ability to dream and reach for the stars we cease to be great.”

John Lewis Remembered.