Questions for ‘Surviving Mars missions will take planning and lots of innovation’

Scientists are studying how to protect astronauts on missions to Mars, where there will be minimal room for medical gear. Here, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins inspects a compact habitat on the International Space Station. It can be expanded into a living or work space.


To accompany feature “Surviving Mars missions will take planning and lots of innovation


Before Reading:

1.  Going to space for months will take a lot of travel planning. Extra clothes are probably not top of the list. What are the top 10 things you’d want to make sure you did not leave home without?

2.  Planning for emergencies can be part of any trip. Camping? You might not want to forget bug spray or alcohol and plastic bandages. But if you were going to Mars, what supplies would you want to make sure end up in your first-aid kit?

During Reading:

1.  NASA is planning on sending people to Mars. How many people will go and for how long?

2.  What are three things the story points to as medical issues the Mars-bound astronauts could face?

3.  In addition to the United States, what are two other nations that plan to send astronauts to Mars?

4.  Why was one cosmonaut unable to carry his helmet after 18 days in space?

5.  Why do an estimated half of astronauts develop vision problems in space? What balance issues did Thomas Marshburn have to cope with right after he returned from a long stay in space?

6.  What is an LBNP chamber and what does it do? How does a centrifuge work and how does it compare to an LBNP chamber, according to the story?

7.  What are cosmic rays? How big of an exposure to cosmic rays could astronauts encounter in deep space? Who are the only people ever to have experienced this type of deep-space radiation? Why don’t International Space Station crews experience it?

8.  What is one of the most promising ways to ward off radiation risks from deep space, according to the story? Why are some medical teams considering aspirin and related drugs for space treatments?

9.  If a physician is one of the astronauts aboard a Mars-bound spacecraft, why would the crew need additional medical experts? What is Dr. AI and how close is NASA to providing this type of medical expertise to crews? Why couldn’t sick or injured crew just call home for advice from NASA’s on-call doctors?

10.  What is NASA’s Integrated Medical Model and how would it work?

After Reading:

1.  After reading this, how concerned are you for astronauts selected to visit the Red Planet? Explain the three biggest concerns you have for them? Would you like to join them? Explain why or why not.

2.  A trip to Mars costs billions of dollars in planning, technology development and training. Considering the many things that need fixing or government funding, do you think Mars travel is a wise use of tax dollars? Explain your reasoning. If you said no, what three things do you think deserve higher priority in the budget for government spending, and why?