Today, after spending 340 days aboard the International Space Station on a mission to better understand the bodily impacts of extended stays in space, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will begin his return trip to Earth.

> See the NASA Television schedule for coverage of Kelly's return March 1-4

Kelly's mission is a key step in NASA's Journey to Mars, which aims to send American astronauts deeper into space and, eventually, all the way to Mars – on missions lasting more than 900 days.

To get astronauts to Mars, scientists and engineers won't only need to study how such a journey might affect the human body, but also invent new modes of transportation that can land astronauts on the Red Planet and then launch them back to Earth; find efficient ways to supply astronauts with food, water and oxygen; and develop systems for living and working on Mars.

NASA Journey to Mars graphic

> See this infographic from NASA that shows what's in the works and the plans ahead for NASA's Journey to Mars

As a leading center for robotic exploration of the solar system, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory may not seem like it has much to do with sending humans to Mars. But actually, JPL scientists and engineers are helping lay much of the groundwork (sometimes literally!) for NASA's Journey to Mars. The Curiosity, Spirit and Opportunity rovers as well as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have spent years on and around Mars collecting science that may help identify a landing location for a human mission, determine the kinds of science that astronauts will do, and discover key info about surviving in the harsh environment. And a number of other missions and technologies being developed at JPL – Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), Mars 2020 and Mars Sample Return, to name a few – are helping to bring astronauts one small step closer to Mars.

Learn more about the Journey to Mars and get students involved with these activities and resources:


Journey to Mars Poster - NASA JPL Edu

UPDATE - Aug. 31, 2016: Our Mars Bulletin Board materials are out of stock. To download and print out the resources, click on the links next to each product.

Get the school year back in gear with a Mars-themed bulletin board for your school, classroom, library or educational program. The Educator Resource Center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is offering a set of free posters and lithographs with fun facts about the Red Planet and NASA's Mars missions.

The Mars Bulletin Board includes:

NASA JPL Edu Earth/Mars Comparison Poster

Earth/Mars Comparison poster

This poster highlights the likenesses and differences between the Red Planet and Earth.

NASA JPL Edu MSL Mars Curiosity rover lithograph poster

Mars Science Laboratory: Curiosity Rover lithograph set

This lithograph set features images of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity as well as images the rover has taken on the Red Planet. Facts about Curiosity and its discoveries are included on the back of each image.

NASA JPL Edu Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity lithograph poster

Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity lithograph

Learn about the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and their key discoveries. (Opportunity is still roving on Mars, more than 10 years after landing on the Red Planet!)

NASA Journey to Mars poster

Journey to Mars poster

As part of its "Journey to Mars" initiative, NASA is developing spacecraft and technologies that will pave the way for a future manned mission to the Red Planet. This graphic shows some of the key milestones of that initiative.

NASA JPL Edu Mars lithograph poster

Mars lithograph

Learn about the history, composition and exploration of Mars on this lithograph featuring images of the Red Planet on one side and fun facts on the other.

The NASA/JPL Educator Resource Center provides formal and informal educators with NASA resources and materials that support STEM learning. For more information, visit the Educator Resource Center page.

TAGS: Bulletin Board, Mars, Journey to Mars, Rover, Spacecraft

  • NASA/JPL Edu