Mission Mars

Experience a virtual Martian sunset, climb into a simulated Orion capsule and feel the texture of rock cliffs inspired by the red planet in our brand-new interactive exhibit, Mission Mars, opening Jan. 21.

Discover what it takes to travel to Mars, what hardware will get us to the fourth planet in our solar system and how humans will live on the red planet.

Mission Mars guides you through NASA’s journey to Mars, beginning with the history of the red planet and how it has changed since we began studying it. Find out what goals NASA aims to achieve by exploring Mars and what the red planet can teach us about Earth and the universe.

Touch a Mars rock

For a limited time, feel the texture of the red planet with a Mars touchstone and see a collection of three other rare Mars meteorites. There are fewer than 150 Mars meteorites, and most of those are in private collections. Don’t miss your chance to see and touch a real piece of the red planet in Mission Mars Jan. 21 through March 18.

Life on the red planet

Explore the exhibit to experience Martian life and answer all your red-hot Mars questions.

The rocks and soil of the red planet tell their own story. In a stunning 4K, six-story projection, experience what it’s like to stand on the surface of Mars. See red, rolling Martian hills in a virtual landscape with future astronauts landing, rovers exploring the planet and a future rocket launching from Earth and heading for Mars. Find out how the geology of Mars differs from Earth – from massive canyons more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon to staggering mountains three times as tall at Mount Everest.
Find out how future spacesuits differ from current and past suits, and see how new suits will look and function.
Get a look at the next generation of rovers called Surface Exploration Vehicles (SEVs). Find out how far you can go in an SEV, how many astronauts fit inside and other details of the ultimate off-worlding vehicle.
Did you know Mars has storms, including dust storms that can take months for all the particles to settle? Discover how Mars’ orbit and thin atmosphere affect its weather and seasons.
Feel the difference gravity makes in a hands-on activity demonstrating how Mars gravity differs from gravity on Earth. Learn how NASA will adjust to the difference and modify the equipment and supplies needed to survive on Mars.

Making the journey

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), projected to be the most powerful rocket ever built, will launch future explorers on their journey to Mars. Inside the Mission Mars exhibit, stand beside a towering, 45-foot model of the SLS and see a working replica of the space launch system main engine, RS-25, the most efficient engine ever built.

After launching, SLS will detach in stages until only the Orion crew vehicle remains. This is where the astronauts will spend the entire journey to Mars. Peer inside a full-size Orion research model used by scientists at NASA Johnson Space Center to study ergonomics and astronaut emergency escape procedures. Afterward, try your hand at being a space explorer in our one-of-a-kind Orion capsule simulator. Climb into the simulator to see, touch and hear what it will be like for the first astronauts who travel to Mars.

Challenges of the red planet

Mars Fun Facts

  • The Martian atmosphere is 100 times thinner than Earth’s.
  • Mars has .38 the gravity of Earth. If you weighed 100 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 38 pounds on Mars.
  • Mars is home to the largest system of valleys in the Solar System. It spans 2,500 miles (4,000 km) — almost as long the United States.

One of the most inhospitable aspects of life on Mars is radiation. There is massive amounts of radiation in space, mainly originating outside the Solar System. Astronauts will have to shield themselves from this radiation during the journey. They also need radiation-blocking habitats while living on Mars because the much thinner Martian atmosphere does not shield as much radiation as Earth’s atmosphere. Find out how astronauts will protect themselves from this cosmic radiation.

What would you pack on a journey to Mars? The weight of every item in the spacecraft must be accounted for to get the most accurate measurements. As a result, astronauts are only allowed to take the minimum amount of equipment and resources required to complete their mission as well as a very limited number of personal items for emotional health. Learn about what astronauts will bring and what they will leave behind.

When supplies are limited by weight, food must be rationed as well. Consequently, astronauts will need to grow food in space. Learn about NASA’s plant growth system called “Veggie” that will allow astronauts to grow food in space and on Mars. Learn what vegetables are best for Martian farms. See what space crops will look like on Mars and how scientists will adapt to Mars’ climate and soil to grow plants.

Mission Mars support

NASA was a key partner in the development of the Mission Mars exhibit. In addition to input from subject-matter NASA experts, NASA’s Office of Education provided a substantial grant through the 2013 Competitive Program for Museums, Science Centers, Planetariums and NASA Visitor Centers. These grants are designed to create interactive exhibits to engage the public, students and teachers in NASA-themed STEM. Lockheed Martin provided the high fidelity Orion capsule trainer, along with financial support for the exhibit construction.

Make it your mission to learn all about this fascinating world when our newest exhibit, Mission Mars. Get your tickets today!

Buy Tickets