Student View
Article
iStockPhoto/Getty Images (Astronaut); Shutterstock.com (All Other Images)
Welcome to Mars

Scientists wonder if humans could one day live there. What would that be like? Let’s take a trip to the future and find out.

By Tricia Culligan
From the October/November 2020 Issue
Lexiles: 400L-500L, 500L-600L
Download and Print

3, 2, 1 . . . Blast off!

You’re strapped into your seat as your rocket shoots into the air. You race toward the stars at 25,000 miles per hour. Faster, faster, faster. The skin on your face feels like it’s going to rip away from your skull. Your whole body shakes. You squeeze your eyes shut, hoping the rocket doesn’t explode.

Finally, you make it into space! But you’re not there yet. Not even close. Mars is tens of millions of miles away. It will take about nine months to get there.

3, 2, 1 . . . Blast off!

You’re in your seat. Your rocket shoots into the air. You race toward the stars at 25,000 miles per hour. Faster, faster, faster. Your skin feels like it’s going to pull away from your face. Your whole body shakes. You close your eyes. Hopefully, the rocket won’t explode!

You make it safely into space. But you haven’t arrived yet. Not even close. Mars is millions of miles away. It will take about nine months to get there.

A Land of Dust

A Land of Dust

When you finally arrive, you can’t just hop out of your spaceship. You need a special spacesuit to protect you. The air on Mars is toxic. You’ll need an oxygen tank at all times.

You step outside and look around in shock. You’re standing in a huge, empty desert covered in red dust. There’s not another living thing in sight. No plants. No animals. No oceans or lakes.

You finally arrive. But you can’t just hop out of your spaceship. You need a spacesuit to protect you. The air on Mars is toxic. You’ll need an oxygen tank at all times. You look around. You’re in a big desert covered in red dust. There’s not another living thing in sight. No plants. No animals. No water.

Frozen Blood

Frozen Blood

In the distance, a giant volcano rises up from the rocky ground—Olympus Mons. It’s three times taller than Earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.

You shiver in your spacesuit. Mars is much colder than Earth—as cold as 140 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Your blood would freeze in minutes. You wonder: What am I doing here?

A giant volcano is in the distance. It’s three times taller than Earth’s highest mountain. You shiver. Mars is much colder than Earth. It gets as cold as 140 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. Your blood would freeze in minutes without a spacesuit. You wonder: What am I doing here?

  • The universe is bigger than we can imagine. There are billions and billions of stars and planets. 
  • The solar system is the group of planets, moons, and other objects that orbit—move around—the sun.
  • Mars is the planet most similar to Earth in our solar system.
  • The eight planets in our solar system are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
  • The Sun is a big, fiery star at the center of our solar system. It gives Earth heat and energy for life.

Inside a Giant Dome

Inside a Giant Dome

And then you remind yourself that you are part of history! No humans have ever lived on another planet before. Only 12 people have walked on Earth’s moon. You’ll be helping to build a new world for humans to live on.

Not that it will be easy. You’ll be a part of a tiny community of humans living in a giant dome. You’ll need to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Most of your time will be spent inside the dome.

Still, Mars and Earth have a lot in common. Mars is about half the size of Earth. But both planets have the same amount of land. (Mars has no water on its surface.) Mars even looks similar to some places on Earth, like the red deserts of Utah.

Scientists plan to send the first humans to Mars in the 2030s. So what do you think . . . would you want to live there one day? 

And then you remember that you’re part of history! No humans have lived on another planet before. Only 12 people have walked on Earth’s moon. You’ll be helping to build a place for humans to live. It won’t be easy. You’ll be a part of a tiny group of humans living in a giant dome. You’ll need to grow your own food. Most of your time will be spent inside the dome.

Still, Mars and Earth have a lot in common. Mars is about half the size of Earth. But both planets have the same amount of land. (Mars has no water on its surface.) Mars even looks like some places on Earth, like the red deserts of Utah.

Scientists plan to send the first humans to Mars in the 2030s. What do you think? Would you want to live there one day?

video (1)
Audio ()
Activities (3)
video (1)
Audio ()
Activities (3) Download All Quizzes and Activities
Can't Miss Teaching Extras
Learn More About Mars

Humans may not be ready to visit Mars yet, but did you know that a rover is scheduled to land on Mars in February 2021? Meet Perseverance (the rover currently heading to Mars) and other rovers on the NASA Space Place website. There, you’ll also find lots of interesting information about Mars such as the weather, its neighboring planets, and what gives it its red color.

 

Fun Fact

One year on Mars is 687 Earth days! Discover why 365 days is considered a year on Earth and how other planets in the solar system measure that time with this article from NASA Space Place.

 

Listen to a Song About the Sun

This catchy, two-minute song video from StoryBots will teach your students about the sun. Take a listen!