When compared to the speed of today’s space rockets, a trip to Mars looks a bit like a roundabout journey, but that is just the way that the Hoeman Transfer Orbit works. With a transfer orbit, you can reach Mars in as little as 130 days. This timeframe is still far from the fastest, but the technology is already available to make the journey faster. The rockets can reach Mars in about half the time, and the Hoeman Transfer Orbit (HTO) is currently the mainstay of interplanetary space travel.
Laser-based technology could reduce journey time to 45 days
A new proposal by researchers at McGill University calls for the use of a laser to send a spacecraft to Mars. The laser would be focused on a 10-meter-wide array on Earth, and it would heat hydrogen gas to produce thrust. The spacecraft would then aerobrake in Mars’s atmosphere and transport supplies and humans to Mars. The system could take as long as 45 days to complete.
To make the trip to Mars shorter, new elements are needed. One new element is an inflatable space structure that would focus a laser beam into a heating chamber. The spacecraft would then accelerate to near the speed of light, arriving on the red planet in 45 days. The remainder of the spacecraft would return to Earth for recycling. Currently, these technologies are still in the developmental stages, and their viability is still uncertain.
SpaceX plans to launch cargo flights to Mars.
SpaceX is planning to launch the first human settlers to Mars by 2024. The company is developing the technology to launch both crewed and cargo flights to the red planet. The first settlers would need to set up a base and begin colonizing the red planet. Future waves would continue the colonization process while expanding the base and terraforming their new home. In the meantime, the company is developing technologies that will help humanity establish a sustainable settlement on Mars.
The uncrewed missions will confirm whether the planet has any natural resources, such as water and carbon dioxide. A Mars cargo ship will bring supplies and equipment to the inhabited settlement, as well as a fuel-production facility. It is possible that humans could survive on the planet, but they must get back home safely. A return trip to Earth will require a powerful rocket that can carry heavy objects. A Falcon Heavy rocket is the ideal choice for these missions.
NASA’s Perseverance rover is searching for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet
NASA’s Perseverance roover is a six-wheeled explorer that will soon begin its journey across the dusty surface of Mars in search of signs of ancient life. Scientists hope that the rover will find evidence of microbial life, which could help them better understand how life on Earth evolved during the early solar system. The rover will gather samples from the lakebed of Jezero Crater to study for signs of ancient life.
The Perseverance rover is already helping to plan for future human missions to the red planet. It is also conducting experiments such as exposing fabric samples to the Martian atmosphere, which is so contaminated with chemicals that may not be suitable for human life. The rover’s six wheels allow it to maneuver around the planet with ease and send back incredible images. It is equipped with a self-driving computer, which can travel at fast speeds.
NASA’s Hohmann Transfer Orbit
This energy-efficient orbit leaves Earth at perihelion and arrives at the outer planet at aphelion. It follows Kepler’s Second Law, which states that a line drawn from one planet to another sweeps out the same area in the same amount of time. Therefore, a spacecraft traveling from Earth to Mars will travel through half of the transfer orbit.
While a round trip to Mars will take approximately nine months, it will take about three months to wait for a launch window, nine months to reach the planet, and a further nine months to return. At present, rocket technology can’t significantly shorten this time, but there are likely to be faster rockets in the future. During the transition, the spacecraft will point itself at the planetary location.
NASA’s technology to send humans to Mars
While NASA is advancing the technology to send humans to Mars, the long journey to the red planet could be very long. It could take years for the astronauts to reach Mars, so they may need to live on its moon, orbit, and eventually land on Mars. NASA hopes to develop the technology to send humans to Mars by 2030. In the meantime, it must show that it is possible to sustain life on Mars.
To send humans to Mars, scientists will need to make significant technological advances, and they’ll also need to implement safety measures. For instance, they must be able to protect astronauts from particle radiation from the sun and distant stars and galaxies. The two major questions that need answers are how to shield astronauts from the radiation, and how long to send them there. One answer could be to schedule the trip to Mars when the spacecraft will be closest to the Martian surface, when it would not be exposed to the same radiation.