We loved this story we saw - it concerned a group of men who stayed in isolation for 18 months to simulate a trip to Mars. The guys stayed in complete isololation. Even their communications were limited as they would be were they to travel to Mars with a 25 minute gap between send and receive times.
So how far from us are those little red men? We were surprised to learn that the distance isn't actually fixed in that it depends where the planets are in their orbits.
The nearest that Mars has ever been to the Earth is 56 million km or about 34.8 million miles. On the opposite end of the scale, Mars and Earth can be a whopping 401 million km (249 million miles) apart when they are in opposition and both are at aphelion. The average distance between the two is 225 million km (140 million miles).
We figure that any trip to mars would be undertaken at a point when the two were closest, so we've used that distance to make our calculations!
Of course we are being a little silly as you would'nt (couldn't even) walk, drive or use a 747 aircraft to get to Mars! You'd use a space ship travelling at 1000's of miles per hour.
We asked Bing and Google for their opinions on what are the current fastest modes of space travel out there and both pointed to a Wikipedia page that cited the Apollo 10 manned flight speed record of 39,896 km/h. That was in 1969 so we'd like to think that any newer spaceship might be able to go a little faster than that, but for the purposes of what is known we'll stick to that speed for our calculation.
So, without further ado...
How did we calculate this?
140 million miles divided by 24790 mph or 140000000mls/24790mph/24hrs)/365days
That's a hell of a long time to be in space enroute to a new world, don't you think?
Update - Could there be life on Mars? Not according to the Guardian
A cool video from Nasa showing the recent landing of 'curiosity' the rover! They landed in a nice flat spot and a spokeman said, "beautiful". How exciting is all this? One day people will live on Mars and we really will have holidays to places like this. Ok, maybe not you and I, but our grandchildren maybe?
Check out these fantastic panaromic views from Mars!
If you liked this Mars piece then you might also like our distance from the moon to earth piece too.