Header Bar Graphic
Nebulae Image and IconAstrobiology HeaderKids Image
Spacer tabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate ButtonSpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews ButtonSpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button

Challenge: Design a Martian

Launch Date: October 13, 2003

Astro ferret standing on EarthDesign Challenge Introduction:
The challenge is for you to design a Martian—a life-form capable of surviving on Mars! Work with other students and research what makes a planet habitable for humans. Does Mars have the conditions necessary for human survival? What sort of creature could survive on Mars? Scientists are tackling these very same questions!

Find answers to the following key questions before you design your Martian.

  1. What are the characteristics that make a planet habitable for humans?
  2. Is Mars habitable for humans? Why or why not?
  3. What kind of life-form might exist on Mars?

Remember, you can't construct a dome or other structure with an artificial environment for your Martian to live in. This life-form must be able to live on the planet itself.

For detailed instructions see Teacher or Student pages.

During this challenge, teachers and students are encouraged to share ideas, findings, and questions with classrooms around the world and then submit designs to our NASA experts for feedback. Throughout the activity, students can interact with the NASA AstroVenture Challenge team to ask questions and receive guidance.

The challenge will culminate with a webcast during which scientists will answer student questions and review their designs.
Special Opportunity! 

Archived Webcast
(Originally aired October 9, 2003)

Archived Webcast:
Exploring Earth to Prepare for Mars

Learn about the similarities between Earth and Mars, the fascinating region of the Rio Tinto, Spain, and testing planetary robots. More information is available. Be sure to visit the info page early as it requires some preparation!

Rio Tinto Spain landscape

Watch the Archive

Note: Although the above webcast is not designed specifically for the Design a Martian Challenge, it is a great way for your class to get some exciting and exclusive information on the latest NASA research in searching for life on Mars!

What You Need to Do:

Week 1
October 13
Discuss your plans and begin research on what makes Earth habitable for humans at the Astro-Venture website.
Week 2
October 20
Research and discuss whether Mars is habitable for humans and begin to design your life-form that could survive on Mars.
October 29
10-11 AM PST
1-2 PM EST
1800 GMT

See the Archive of the Chat with NASA scientists to ask your questions about human habitability on Mars, and possible life-forms that might survive in the Martian environment. Following the chat, our experts answered more questions.

Week 4,5,6
November 6
View Student preliminary designs that have been submitted and
Read the archive of the a forum with other classrooms (Peer Review) that students used to improve your designs.

November 20
8:30 AM PST
11:30AM EST
1630 GMT

Read the archive of the chat with NASA scientists regarding possible life on Mars, and about your preliminary "Martian" designs to help refine your final design.

Submit your final designs!

November 26

Deadline for final designs to be submitted.

View Designs that have been submitted

December 3
10-11 AM PST
1-2 PM EST
1800 GMT

View the Archive; Read the Transcript
Hear from NASA scientists about Astrobiology. See what NASA is now doing in the support of finding out if life exists on Mars and find out what they have to say about your designs.
Meet our experts:

Geoff BriggsGeoff Briggs
Scientific Director of NASA's Center for Mars Exploration
Read Geoff's Bio >>

  Jon RaskJon Rask
Experiment Support Scientist/Research Scientist, Space Station Biological Research Project
Read Jon's Career Fact Sheet >> (pdf file)



More Information for Teachers

More Information for Students

Links to helpful information


Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info