We are a nation of explorers right, it’s, part of the human spirit and in the history of the world. Great nations explore the biggest challenge is to take advantage of the fact that you’re there, as a human being as a scientist as an engineer and and you’ve, got to make your presence on mars worth all of the resources that it took. To put you there. You know a a trip to mars is uh. You know an order of magnitude, more ambitious than anything we’ve done before, both from a technical and a human, health and psychology point of view, so there’s a lot of technology and systems and capabilities. We need to develop and prove out to be able to successfully execute a human mission to mars and safely return. The crew back to earth we’re cautiously optimistic that by the end of the 2030s, we may be able to send and get do a round trip mission with astronauts uh. It may take a little longer but there’s a lot of learning. We’Re gon na do in this decade we’re in right now before we could send people to mars humans to explore. We’Ve got to understand one. Was there ever life there, or even is there life there and could that life pose a threat to humans, exploring we have to understand the geology, the environment and the radiation of mars and we’ve got to demonstrate the technologies necessary to support human exploration of the surgeons.

Well, mars, 2020 and the perseverance rover are the first leg in the mars sample return campaign. We will get the signal: a perseverance’s touchdown at 12, 55 pm pacific standard time on the 18th of february of this year. Getting to the surface of mars from the edge of the atmosphere is one of the greatest challenges of mission faces. We call it the seven minutes of terror it’s this frankly terrifying moment where the spacecraft has to sense its its progress through the atmosphere, steer itself right and left up and down choose when to open its parachute choose where to land all to successfully get the beautiful Rover safely to the servants a goal of this mission, an important goal is to look and see whether there’s any evidence that life might have once existed on mars, and we believe that the early history of mars was very similar to the early history of the earth. Instead of being a cold dry desert like it is now there’s good evidence that mars had a much more temperate climate had an atmosphere had liquid water at around the same time that life was developing on earth. Perseverance is headed to a spot called jezrow crater, and the scientists chose that spot because there’s, this beautiful delta, that sits at the edge of the crater water once flowed into this crater. Making a lake and the delta is the deposits of the sentiment that came in the river that flowed into the lake, slowed and piled up that delta material preserves signs of ancient life better than any other kind of material.

That scientists know we’re going to try land right at the foot of that delta and look in the delta deposits for signs of ancient life. On the surface of mars, perseverance she’s, going to take a few years, a couple three earth years, collecting samples on the surface of mars, sealed in special hygienic tubes. A few years later, the sample retrieval lander, a lander launched by nasa, will land and on that lander will also be a little fetch rover from the european space agency and that fetch rover will go off grab the samples from the stash and those samples come back To earth and land in uttr the utah test and training range out in the historic lake bonneville salt flats of utah. If life did start on mars, maybe we can find some fossils but it’s much easier to look at those fossils in laboratories on the earth and although we’ll examine them on mars, to bring samples back to earth. That’S been the holy grail for planetary scientists for decades. Now and we’re finally getting around to doing it. The perseverance rover externally looks very similar to curiosity by design, but the the kinds of experiments that are being flown there’s, an awful lot new, along with taking samples for return to earth by other, robotic missions. We are also looking at demonstrating technologies that would be necessary to put humans on the surface of mars there’s. The typical suite of geology, experiments cameras, you know, lasers, to vaporize rock and analyze them drills and we’re carrying a helicopter.

For the first time, nasa is going to attempt to fly actually an aerodynamic vehicle on on another planet. We also have a ground penetrating radar and then, of course, there’s our moxie oxygen producing experiment. Our moxie instrument is generating oxygen from the carbon dioxide of martian atmosphere and it takes the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of mars and breaks. It breaks out. The carbon gives one oxygen to it and takes away some of those free oxygens and combines them into o2. That’S the oxygen that you and i breathe when we’re here on earth, breathing the atmosphere of earth. That oxygen is very necessary one to let astronauts breathe on the surface of bars and two as an oxidizer with rocket fuel to help them get home to earth. The real need for oxygen is assuming you want to come back from mars, you’re going to have to have a big rocket take off from the surface of mars to get you back into mars orbit where, hopefully, your ride home is waiting for you and it’s going To take tens of tons 20 30 tons of liquid oxygen as one of the propellants for that rocket. Where are you going to get that oxygen if we could make that oxygen on mars, we’re way ahead of the game and that’s the purpose of of moxie we’re? Actually, preparing the way for future human exploration by demonstrating that it’s possible to produce oxygen on the surface of mars, using local resources.

A trip to mars is, you know, order of magnitude more ambitious than anything we’ve done before, both from a technical and a a human health and psychology point of view i joined nasa back in 1978, i made five flights on the space shuttle. I was the first astronaut to walk 1 000 hours on the space shuttle. I was on the crew that repaired the hubble space telescope, just keeping people healthy in a weightless environment for the roughly eight months it takes to get to mars. Now we’ve shown that we can do that on the international space station using extensive exercise, equipment and diet, but you know we can’t send all that stuff to mars the end and also we’ve got the problem you’re out you’re on outside the earth’s magnetic field, so you’re Exposed to the full fury of galactic and solar cosmic radiation, the crew is going to be bathed in radiation inside the solar system in the transit between earth and mars, and so they’re going to need a lot of protection against that radiation and that protection itself is Very heavy and then, of course, you’ve got to go through entry, descent and landing right. Now, our technology can’t land, more than about a ton once you’re safely on the surface there’s a whole bunch of other things. You’Ve got to worry about mars has a very thin atmosphere. It can’t support life, so you’ve got to wear a spacesuit just like walking around on the moon, and that makes doing science that much more difficult and then there’s a psychological problem.

I mean astronauts spend many months up in the space station, but anytime you have a little spare time. You you can look out the window and and see the beautiful earth underneath you i mean in all my space flights. I never got tired of looking out the window. The patterns and the beauty of the surface of the earth never cease to amaze me on your way to mars. It’S going to be very different. I mean you are going to look out the window for months at a time and all you’re going to see is stars and stars: no earth, no moon. So there’s going to be great psychological stress on the crew, as well as the physical problems, so it’s it’s a huge undertaking, but everything we’ve learned about mars, the more we learn, the more fascinating the planet. It is and it’s so fascinating that, ultimately, we need to explore it as well as is humanly possible, and that ultimately means going there with people, and that is part of human exploration is that is that inspiration of astronauts preparing for a mission sharing that sharing their Mission while it’s happening and then coming back to earth, and not only sharing the science results but telling the story of their time in space, it’s part of the human spirit and in the history of the world. Great nations explore and in some cases when they stopped exploring, they went on a fairly long decline until they reinvigorated that spirit of exploration and started to do those activities.