High Altitude Science: Why Haven’t We Put an Astronaut on Mars?

by | May 23, 2016 | Cool Stuff

High altitude science projects have come a long way since the early days of space exploration. Mankind has landed on the moon, orbited the earth, sent countless satellites through the deep unknowns of space, and even jumped from a weather balloon that rose up through the Stratosphere.

Recently, space explorations identified that Mars, one of Earth’s neighboring planets, has flowing water. While scientists have known for years about Mars’ frozen water, they were surprised by recent discovery of flowing water.

Which leads to the question, why hasn’t high altitude science resulted in putting an astronaut on Mars?

Unbreathable Atmosphere

One of the main reasons astronauts haven’t traveled to the Red Planet is because of its unbreathable atmosphere. Imagine being on the top of Mount Everest without oxygen. That’s what the best conditions on Mars are like. The planet is often compared to an even more inhospitable version of Antarctica, which is home to only a few isolated scientists, ice caps, and some animals that tolerate the extreme conditions.

Hardware Testing

Sending a mission to Mars takes a lot of technical know-how and equipment. Much of the equipment that would be needed to send an astronaut to Mars hasn’t even been developed, yet. However, NASA is testing and developing the technologies needed to make the journey possible.

The Journey

A mission to mars will last for well over a year. Even if the astronauts were on the planet for less that 24 hours, the travel time to the planet would currently last anywhere from 6 to 8 months. So, an entire mission to Mars, would be 12 to 16 months plus the time actually spent on the planet conducting tests and collecting samples.

The Logistics

We just mentioned in the above section how long a mission to Mars would last. The logistics of coordinating a mission that lasts that long is incredibly detailed and complex. Everything from the fuel needed for a mission this size to storing enough food and water for over a year without it going bad is complicated. Currently, an undertaking of this magnitude can’t be done.

High altitude science has brought us new technology and allowed our imagination to grow and flourish. As we continue pushing the boundaries of space exploration and develop the plans and technology needed, NASA plans on sending and landing an astronaut on Mars’ surface in the coming years.  

Want to explore the edge of space? A high altitude weather balloon is the perfect way to get hands-on-learning, while having fun!