The Mars Learning Adventure

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

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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.



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Junior Astronauts and Aeronautics

Careers in Aeronautics: Salary and Job Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in aeronautics. Read on to learn more about career options along with education requirements and salary potential information.

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What Are Career Options in Aeronautics?

Aeronautical engineering and drafting are two options for those interested in this field. Professionals in these jobs work together to design and create aircraft. The engineers take project proposals and evaluate them to determine if they are feasible. This includes assessing the technological and financial needs to create an aircraft, developing acceptance criteria for designs and making sure that the end result is a safe aircraft or aircraft part. They also need to ensure designs meet engineering principles, customer requirements and environmental challenges. In the event of a malfunctioned part, they may be asked to inspect the part and determine the cause of malfunction.

Aeronautical drafters are mechanical drafters that work on aircraft designs. Using computer-aided design (CAD) software, they take sketches from engineers and create digital representations of them. In these representations, they may add additional information including dimensions, materials and production procedures. In some cases, they may even help engineers come up with designs and production procedures.

The following chart gives an overview of what you need to know about entering either of these careers.

Aeronautical Engineer Aeronautical Drafter
Degree Required Bachelor’s degree minimum Associate’s degree minimum
Education Field of Study Aeronautical or mechanical engineering Drafting
Key Skills Develop technology/design of aircraft; research/test flight systems Create 3-D blueprints for aircraft design & construction
Licensure/Certification Licensure sometimes required Voluntary certification available
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028) 2%* -7% (for all mechanical drafters)*
Median Salary (2018) $115,220* $53,520 (for all mechanical drafters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Career Options are Available in Aeronautics?

Careers in aeronautics involve the designing of aircrafts. Aeronautical engineers and drafters work together to create a finished aircraft that meets safety standards and industry regulations.


Work as an aeronautical engineer includes managing the design and construction of aircrafts. Your job may also include developing technology, flight systems and structural designs. You may be required to research and test new techniques used in the field. It is common to choose a specialty such as spacecraft or commercial aircraft.


As an aeronautical drafter, you are responsible for creating the blueprints that will be used to build a new aircraft. In your technical plans, you note specifications, write instructions and notes, calculate the scale and provide all the information used to create the parts and construct the finished aircraft. Aeronautical drafters must work with physicists and engineers to get technical calculations to create 3-D models using computer-aided drafting software.

How Do I Prepare for These Careers?

As an aeronautical engineer, you need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical or mechanical engineering, as well as a strong educational background in mathematics and science. Engineers typically start in an entry-level position. As you gain experience, you further your education, which may help you advance in your career.

If you are seeking a job as an aeronautical drafter, you need at least an associate degree in drafting. You need developed skills in mechanical drawing, computer-aided drafting software and mathematics. You may wish to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering or mathematics to advance your education.

What Is the Earning Potential?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aerospace engineers earned a median annual wage of $115,220, as of May 2018. The BLS also reported that during the same month, mechanical drafters, including aeronautical drafters, earned a median salary of $55,920.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you’d like to explore similar fields, you might look into engineering management or industrial design. Engineering managers are often responsible for organizing and overseeing engineering projects. While some of these managers may only have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty, many have a master’s degree in engineering management, technology management or business administration. Significant work experience is also required for engineering managers.

Industrial designers develop concepts for products. They use their understanding of art, business and engineering to create product concepts that are functional, aesthetically pleasing and affordable to produce. Usually they have a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture or engineering.

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Who wants to help me feed Mars?


The Barboza Space Center is working with a scientist that has lived on Devon Island.  We are exploring growing food in California and Cabo Verde.

Above Image: The surface of Devon Island, Nunavut, resembles that of Mars ©
Source: Dr. Thomas Graham, University of Guelph.

Astronauts traveling to Mars will need to grow some of their own food in order to survive and stay healthy. To successfully grow plants on Mars, greenhouse structures will be necessary to provide similar growing conditions to those on Earth. Greenhouses on Earth are structures with transparentglass or plastic walls and roofs that allow as much of the available sunlight as possible to reach the plants inside. But on Mars will there be enough light to meet the needs of growing plants? Several factors influence the amount of light that would be available on Mars for growing plants.

Distance from the Sun

Mars’ greater distance from the Sun means that the maximum intensity (brightness) of sunlight on Mars is much less (about 44%) than that on Earth. This means that the greatest light intensity that Mars ever experiences is about the same as the light intensity Canada experiences in the middle of the winter, when the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun (See Figure 1).

Martian Seasons

The seasons a planet experiences are determined by the tilt of the planet on its axis and the shape of its orbit around the Sun. Like Earth, Mars is tilted away from the Sun on its axis, so as it travels around the Sun there are times during the Martian year (days) that a part of the planet does not receive direct sunlight. This axial tilt causes four seasons on Mars, which is similar to Earth. Since Mars is twice as far from the Sun, each year on Mars is longer (1.88 Earth years), and the seasons are each twice as long as on Earth.

In addition, the shape of Mars’ orbit, which is very elliptical (an eccentric orbit) compared to Earth’s orbit, results in seasons that are of different lengths. For example, in the northern hemisphere on Mars, spring is 7 months, summer is 6 months, fall is 5.3 months and winter is a little over 4 months long. This means that the number of daylight hours and light intensity at different times of the year may not always be enough to meet the needs of plants.

The Impact of Weather

The amount of light reaching the surface of Mars can also be dramatically affected by weather. Due to its distance from the Sun and thin atmosphere, the surface of Mars is very cold and it has very little warming due to the greenhouse effect (about 6 degrees Celsius). The most significant weather phenomena on Mars are dust storms and winds. These dust storms can block out direct solar radiation from the Sun for very long periods of time, sometimes for up to several weeks or even months! (See The Weather of Mars video) Without enough light for that length of time, plants would not be able to produce enough food through photosynthesis and they would slowly die.

It appears that, depending on the location of habitation on Mars, the time of year and the weather conditions, artificial light sources will be needed to provide a reliable and adequate amount of light to grow plants on Mars. At the same time, scientists are also conducting research with plants to find ways to lower their requirements for light.

Mars Plant Research On Earth

Will there be enough natural sunlight on Mars to grow crops such as tomatoes? Will greenhouses with artificial light be required? Plant scientists have been working on finding answers to these key questions through studies conducted right here on Earth!

Devon Island in Nunavut, Canada, is the largest uninhabited island on Earth. It has surface characteristics that strongly resemble those of the surface of Mars, with a barren, rocky landscape and temperatures that often dip as low as –50°C and rarely go higher than 5°C (See Figure 2).

Located at latitude of slightly more than 75°N, Devon Island has a solar insolation similar to the solar insolation at the Martian equator. Scientists are assuming that the location of the first Mars habitationby humans will occur near the Martian equator where seasonal changes that can affect light intensity are less noticeable. Except for a brief period in June, the intensity of the Sun on Devon Island never gets higher than the solar intensity on Mars. This means Devon Island provides an excellent environment to do plant research with light conditions that resemble those on Mars. In 2002, the Arthur C. Clarke Mars Analogue Greenhouse was installed near the rim of the Haughton Impact Crater, on Devon Island near the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) (See Figures 3 and 4). Researchers here are learning how to operate a greenhouse in this very extreme climate.

Plant scientists have been conducting experiments and testing sensor technologies (webcams and environment monitoring sensors) that can monitor the growing conditions inside the greenhouse and the condition of the plants (See Figure 5). Several crops, including radishes, beets, lettuce, and tomatoes have been grown in this greenhouse on Devon Island.

Devon Island research is also helping scientists to learn about how to keep a greenhouse operating and providing for the needs of the plants without actually having humans there to care for the plants.

For 11 months of the year the growing environment is maintained with remotely-controlled (satellite) and automated irrigation systems, solar panels, heating systems to support growth, and a webcam network to track the progress of the plants (See Figure 6). These automated gardening techniques could come in handy in preparing for the arrival of humans (to have food and air ready for crew when they arrive) on Mars, or for keeping plants growing between missions. The success of this greenhouse in the extreme environment of Devon Island is a good indication of whether or not people will be able to grow crops on Mars.


Eccentric orbit

An orbit that deviates from a perfect circle.


A place in which to live.

Solar insolation

The amount of solar radiation striking Earth or another planet.


A characteristic of material that allows light to pass through it.


External Resources

  • Mars Institute (Retrieved May 10, 2016). The Mars Institute is an international, non-governmental, non-profit research organization dedicated to advancing the scientific study, exploration, and public understanding of Mars.
  • Solar Energy Reaching The Earth’s Surface (Retrieved April 20, 2017). This webpage by ITACA describes the calculations involved in determining the solar energy reaching the Earth’s surface.

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25 Mars Mission Challenges for the Barboza Space Center Tiger Teams

Our student Tiger Team interns have a new list of

25 Challenges:

  1.  Radiation
  2. Growing Food
  3. Water
  4. Oxygen
  5. Habitats
  6. 3D Printing
  7. Software Development
  8. Robotics
  9. Medicine
  10. Communications
  11. Helicopters
  12. Drones
  13. Psychological (NASA SIRIS Project)
  14. Rocket Fuel
  15. Yoga
  16. Education
  17. Astrosociology
  18. Coronavirus
  19. Chemistry
  20. Inventions for Mars
  21. Astrobiology
  22. Astrophysics
  23. Astrochemistry
  24. Astronomy
  25. Aviation


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Getting Ready for A Mars

Sept. 25, 2018

SIRIUS 18/19 Seeking Participants for a 4-Month Mission in Russia

SIRIUS 18/19 is a joint project between NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and Russia’s Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) to help prepare humans for long duration space missions.  You can find more information about the NEK facility here: This recruitment is seeking individuals to participate in a 4-month isolation mission inside the NEK analog facility.  The primary purpose of the 4-month mission is to conduct a vast array of physiological, psychological, behavioral, and social research on the six people who are living and working within the facility while engaged in a simulated space mission.

Credits: NASA

NASA intends to select two candidates for this study by early November 2018.  The total time in Moscow to support the study will likely be from mid-January through mid-July 2019.  The isolation phase of the mission (the 4-month portion) is scheduled to begin in early March and conclude in early July.  There may be some brief travel to Moscow in November 2018.

Candidates applying for this study as a NASA-provided crew member MUST be US Citizens.  Other criteria for inclusion, or factors which will determine exclusion, are listed below.  Please read these criteria carefully prior to applying.  Applications will be accepted until November 1, 2018.

Candidates will require medical as well as psychological screening, as indicated below.  Medical screening will be performed, if possible, at a facility near the candidate’s home.  Psychological screening will be conducted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  Screening and travel costs will be paid by NASA’s screening contractor.  If selected, travel to/from Moscow including lodging and transportation, will be paid by NASA.  Subjects will be remunerated for their time, including the time involved in the pre-mission training, the mission itself, and the post-mission data collection time period.

Inclusion Criteria

Candidate subject inclusion criteria for the study will be the following:

  • Age is 30 to 55 years.
  • Height not to exceed 180 cm.
  • Successful completion of a modified U.S. Air Force Class III Physical, dental and oral examination, and psychological screening
  • Willing to be confined and isolated for up to 4 months.
  • Body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 30.
  • English and Russian verbal and written proficiency.
  • Technical skills demonstrated through education and professional experience.

Advanced degree (e.g. MS degree, PhD, MD) or completion of military officer training is preferred.

Subjects with a Bachelor’s degree AND one of the following qualifications are acceptable candidates as well:

  • the equivalent of two years of full-time graduate coursework
  •  two years’ professional experience in a relevant scientific, technical, or medical field
  • two years of military experience (completed military officer training preferred)
  • HRP will be notified of subject’s prescription medication use to determine if medication will violate HRP scientific research.

Exclusion Criteria

Candidate subject exclusion criteria for the study will be the following:

  • A history of self-reported psychological or psychiatric illness that is determined by the psychiatrist/psychologist to place the crewmember at risk to his/her psychological well-being should he/she participate in the mission.
  • Inability or unwillingness to perform the required tests.
  • Prior cardiovascular or neurologic disease.
  • Sleep walking and sleep aid use 30 days prior to participation (verbal confirmation is adequate).  History of sleep disorders.
  • Female candidate is pregnant or lactating.
  • Failure to pass a criminal background check.
  • Any eye disorder not correctable to 20/20 visual acuity in each eye.
  • Prior participation as a subject in the NEK habitat for an overnight mission of 10 days or longer
  • Prior participation in HRP-funded NEK science protocols
  • History of gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Claustrophobic.

Candidates who meet the above criteria, and who are interested in and able to participate in this mission during the specified time period are encouraged to send their CV to:

For the subject line, please indicate: CANDIDATE – SIRIUS18/19

Thank you again for your interest in furthering NASA Human Research Program goals!

Last Updated: Sept. 25, 2018
Editor: Kelli Mars