Life on Mars: How Close Are We?

It’s quite likely that right now in some classroom, there is a student who will one day travel to Mars… 

Is There Life On Mars?

Could humans live on Mars? Is there life there already? Since David Bowie posed these questions, our quest to answer them has gained momentum. Breakthroughs in astrophysics and other sciences have furthered the bounds of our ability to understand and travel through space.

David Bowie Mural Edited


Astronauts of the Future

It’s quite likely that right now in some classroom, there is a student who will one day travel to Mars, and in knowing such, the ability to understand space travel and the planet Mars for our future has become the focus of many organizations and companies. Programs to pique students interests have multiplied.



Bus Ride on Mars

One such program is The Mars Experience developed as a part of Lockhead Martin’s Generation Beyond initiative. This program makes the passengers of a school bus feel like they’re on Mars. Now for some, the summer months can already make an ordinary school bus feel as hot and dry as the planet Mars, but in the program they have transformed a normal school bus into a virtual Martian Tourbus; its windows replaced by high definition displays that show 200 square miles of the Martian landscape with perfect scientific accuracy. The images are shown in real time with the most advanced virtual reality software available to create the illusion of driving across the surface of Mars. This program and others like it will hopefully help to inspire today’s youth to learn and work towards making this virtual reality into an actual reality.



How Long Could You Last on Mars?

The film “The Martian” takes place in the not-so-distant future where programs like similar to The Mars Experience have succeeded, where NASA has excelled and advanced its space program and has developed manned missions to Mars. Of course, it the missions are still full of faults and errors, as unexpected and unanticipated events force Matt Damon to stretch the limits of his ingenuity to succeed and survive. He is able to grow food on Mars by finding new uses for what little materials and resources he has. In the film a human being is able to live on Mars (with a little help of futuristic sci-fi devices) but it is not easy. In this lesson you’ll ask yourself how long you could last on Mars.


Some media may contain mature content. Discretion is advised when viewing with students.

Use the following media resources to help students:

The Curious Life of a Mars Rover – Nat Geo Live

The Martian Trailer:

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the science of "The Martian"

How Long Would You Survive on Mars?

Could we actually live on Mars? - Mari Foroutan

Mars One: Destination Mars
Lesson Plan

LEARNING OBJECTIVE: This lesson can be used for both physics and ecology students. Physics Students will learn basic information about past and ongoing missions to Mars. They will explore the difficulty involved in these missions as well as the scientific hoops necessary to jump through and the dangers they pose. Ecology Students will learn basic information about what is required to maintain and sustain life on other planets: how plants grow in difficult environments; preserving energy; reusing water and nutrients. It will also give an overall introduction to terraforming, making other planets similar to Earth, and why this issue is becoming more important.

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Lesson tags: Eighth, Featured, Mars, Movies, NASA, Ninth, Science, space, Space Travel, Tenth, Terraforming, The Martian

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