How fast can we go to Mars

Journey to Mars - how long does it take?

The first humans on Mars should be there soon. In 2030 or maybe sooner, in 2024, for optimists like Elon Musk. By the way: how long does it take to reach the red planet?

There is increasing talk of sending people to Mars. The NASA is preparing for its first manned trip to Mars in 2030. Other countries like China, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Europe are also interested. But that is not all. In the private sector is SpaceX CEO Elon Musk very ambitious indeed in this field and envisions the arrival of the first people in the field Mars by 2024 in front. These pioneers would pave the way for a major Martian city that could house up to a million people by the end of the 21st century. At least that's what he hopes.

Mars is the second closest planet to us after Venus. He is on average 220 million km from the sun (the earth is 150 million km from our star). So the calculation seems simple: If we take the difference between the two, we get 70 million km. In reality, however, the two stars move around the sun, on orbits that are not circular, but elliptical. Theoretically is the maximum proximity, that can exist between the red planet and us, 54.6 million km. To do this, however, the two planets must be aligned with the sun, one in aphelion (earth), the other in perihelion (Mars). This is very rare. In 2003 we were almost there. In the summer, Mars was only 55.7 million km from our eyes: its closest distance to Earth in 60,000 years. A record!

Mars, a moving target

Both planets move, each at a different speed. Otherwise, it would only take 39 days for a fast spaceship like New Horizons to deny Red planet reached. But it takes the earth a year to go around the sun, and the Mars 1.9 years. For engineers who want to send a probe or robot - and soon humans too - to Mars, it's like shooting an arrow at a moving target while you're moving. So you don't have to wait to get as close as possible, you can anticipate that moment. Typically, all opens 26 months a window of admission. For the Space agencies so it's not about missing out.

The path to Mars is not direct and the distance is constant. Not to mention, when you arrive, plan to slow down so as not to miss the rendezvous. Finally, the duration of the Trip to Mars also from the performance of the spacecraft. It is therefore necessary to take into account all of these parameters in order to calculate the shortest possible trip.

Of course, if we could travel at the speed of light, the journey would only take a few minutes: a minimum of 3 minutes and a maximum (when the two planets are furthest apart) 22.4 min. But this is not yet the case

Currently, a trip to Mars takes due to the low Distance from Earth and Mars - she finds everyone 1.6 years instead - about 260 days. With a more powerful ship than today's, the flight could be cut in half. And in the not too distant future it could e.g. For example, photonic propulsion systems or other technologies in development make it possible to reach Mars in just a few days. In 1964, the first American probe, Mariner 4, made it to Mars in 228 days. Viking 1 and 2 took 304 and 333 days, respectively. As for curiosity, it took time 254 days.


This entry was published in Astronomy, FAQ by Bernard Miletic. Permalink