In Earth years, it is 2076, and a now routine Voyage to Mars has brought the
latest human crew into Martian orbit. Control of the incoming flight has been
transferred from Houstons Mission Control to Mars Control at Chryse
Station. The crew arriving from Earth on the Mars Transport Vehicle has been
specially trained to replace the existing crew of astronauts, which has manned
the Mars Control for the past two years, and to continue their scientific
It was 100 years ago when Viking 1 & 2 made their first United States
robotic landings on Mars in the late 1970s giving humans their first
up-close look at the Martian surface.
A renewed interest in Earths planetary neighbor was spurred by Mars
Pathfinder with its July 4, 1997, landing and the more recent
Spirit and Opportunity rovers which are still operating
on Mars. These golf cart-sized rovers rekindled the human spirit of exploration
as they crawled around ancient flood plains on Mars sniffing rocks and snapping
pictures that provide the most detailed look ever at the Red Planets
The success of the previous Mars missions set the stage for an armada of
robotic spacecraft that over the next three decades paved the way for the first
human landings on Mars. The data collected during the early years of the new
millennium by robotic explorations and spacecraft in Martian orbit have
directed the human explorations.
Studies of the ancient flood plains and incredible canyons are part of an
effort to find out what happened to the water that once flowed across Mars, to
find out if the planet once had a more Earth-like environment, and if so, to
find out why it changed and if this change could happen on Earth. The crew on
the Martian surface has collected and analyzed a great number of geologic and
soil samples, as well as data gathered by probes on the Martian moons.
The Mars Control team is charged with the selection of entry and departure
trajectories before the landing and subsequent lift-off of the Mars Transport
Vehicle can occur.
The crew on the Mars Transport Vehicle is tasked with the launching of probes
targeted at the Martian moons. A probe will be launched to Phobos prior to
landing, and then another to Deimos before the flight back to Earth.
Both the relief crew and the planet-based crew will be under tight deadlines to
gather important data and communicate information to the teams, the spacecraft,
and the Mars base. The crews also will gain an appreciation for the
luxuries of planet Earth - such as air, water and food - as
compared to a barren planet such as Mars.
Challenger Center programs are designed to reflect academic standards such as
the Kentucky Program of Studies and Core Content for Assessment, the
National Science Education Standards, and the Curriculum and
Evaluation standards for school mathematics.