On movie missions to Mars, getting there is the easy part. The Martian’s Mark Watney, for instance, was fine until a dust storm left him fending for himself. But in real life, dangers well beyond extreme weather face crews headed to the Red Planet.
“The mission to Mars is likely going to be four to six individuals [living] together in a can the size of a Winnebago for three years,” says Leticia Vega. She’s the associate chief scientist for the NASA Human Research Program in Houston, Texas. Time on the planet will be sandwiched between a six- to nine-month journey there plus the same long trip back.