This summer not one but three missions are heading to Mars. Here’s everything you need to know about the three missions and three activities from the National Space Centre for you to try at home so you can have fun whilst learning about the Red Planet.
Why Summer 2020?
For space missions travelling beyond Earth, it’s really important to time launches with the movement of the planets around the Sun. For an expedition to Mars, a launch window opens every 2.2 years when Earth and Mars are closest together and the journey takes the least amount of rocket fuel and time.
There is strong evidence that Mars was once warmer, with a thicker atmosphere and large seas and rivers that flowed on its surface. It’s possible that primitive life once existed on ancient Mars and many of today’s missions to Mars focus on the search for fossilised or even current life below its surface.
The Three Missions
1. NASA’s Mars 2020 Mission – Perseverance Rover
The Mars 2020 rover is the size of an average car and will search for signs of ancient microbial life under the surface of Mars. The rover will collect and analyse rock samples and test a technique of producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, preparing for future human exploration.
Launched: 30 July 2020
2. UAE Space Agency’s Hope Spacecraft
For the first time, the United Arab Emirates is also sending a mission to Mars. The Hope Mars Mission launched the Hope Probe on 20 July 2020, 51 years since Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, in order to study the atmosphere and climate on Mars.
3. China’s Mars 2020 Mission
China is planning to send an orbiter and a rover on the same trip, in order to take full advantage of the 2020 launch window. It will also search for both current and previous life and evaluate the planet’s surface and climate.
Launched: 23 July 2020
The Three Activities
1. How to Make MarsMallows
Learn how to make MarsMallows with this fun-filled recipe.
2. How to Build and Launch Your Own Rocket
Watch how to build and launch your own rocket at home using sellotape, scissors, a tube, paper and colouring pens.
3. How to Make Your Own Mars Lander
Josh challenges Paul to create a Mars Lander and safely land an egg astronaut onto the ground. Give it a go using whatever you can find around the house.
If your little one is an aspiring astronaut then I'm sure they will love our space collection which is filled with planets, rockets and stars on a range of kids accessories and home furnishings.
Have you tried any of these space activities from the National Space Centre? Let us know below in the comments!