The Red Planet Travel Advisory

The Red Planet Travel Advisory

Around the Bluhmin’ Town


Judy Bluhm

They have landed. Okay, so they never really left. But four brave souls (scientists) that have been sequestered in a “Mars simulation environment” for one year at NASA’S Johnson Space Center in Houston have officially been released. They will be examined, analyzed, and go through a battery of medical and mental evaluations to try to ascertain exactly what happens when a human is isolated for one year. The real trip to Mars is probably a one-way ticket. The word “forever” comes to mind.

The four “crew members” in this simulation lived in a 17,000 square foot 3D printed habitat. The crew worked through issues that future astronauts will face. Things like “spacewalks,” and communication delays (takes about 22 minutes to get responses between Mars and Earth) were part of the experiment. And of course, they had to grow their own food to supplement the years’ worth of pantry items they took along. No texting, television, or visiting friends.

Would you like a chance to become an honorary Martian? Well, you might be in luck. NASA is currently looking for four more volunteers to go into their “Mars simulation” for a year, starting in 2025. It does sound enticing. What could go wrong? Claustrophobia, missing family, limited communication, boring food, are just a few “obstacles” to consider. Yet, there is a long list of folks who are hoping to be chosen for this experiment.

Oh, Red Planet, one day humankind will come to explore (colonize) your barren surface. First, there are problems to solve. The atmosphere of Mars is 100 times thinner than Earth’s. It could take about six to nine months just to get the spacecraft to the Red Planet. Then there is the issue of landing an aircraft. Of course, the next concern is that once there, how would humans ever be able to leave? “Not likely going home,” is the pat answer to astronauts going to Mars.

Exploration, discovery, searching the unknown has been a behavior of humans since the beginning of time. There are millions of settlers, pioneers, explorers before us that led the way to new lands and enhanced understanding of our planet. They pushed off in small boats, looking for new continents. They left the comfort of familiarity to blaze a trail. Imagine just heading west in a wagon train in the 1800s, leaving the security of a bustling city to settle a new (and often mysterious) land. The task was daunting. The road to a “a new life” is paved with dreams of something better.

It is likely that many of the early pioneers or explorers, never really thought about “going back.” So maybe that is the mindset needed to take the mission to Mars. Go where no others have gone. Depart the safety of the known for the thrill of what lies ahead. This is an adventure for those folks with untamed hearts, who will make a leap of faith to another planet without looking back. Because everything they seek lies ahead, not behind.

Want to go to Mars? It is the trip that is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Just planet carefully.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Contact Judy at [email protected]. Or visit

Send a Message

Whether you have a question about one of my articles, a story you'd like to share, or just want to say hello, you can reach out through this contact form. I'll be happy to hear from you and will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.