One of the first men to set foot on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, wants to see his 1969 accomplishment matched by humanity’s entrance onto the surface of Mars.
Currently home to just a few space rovers – some working, some not so much – Mars remains the dream location for many a star gazer, with its red, dusty allure capturing the imagination of generations.
With this year a euphoric one for space exploration, news that yet more of humanity’s greatest space minds are focusing on tangible missions that will one day bring us to Mars is a welcome boon.
Mars mission: Many to choose from
There’s already the Mars One mission, which got the discussion really motoring with its original (now hazy) plan to send people on a one-way ticket to Mars by 2027.
Then there’s SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space project that was initially his way of speeding up a Martian colonisation but has turned out to be a delivery system for the ISS – still incredibly impressive, but not quite what he had in mind.
NASA is continually looking towards the red rock, working out how to improve on each rover so that, one day, we can send man.
However, now that the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute has been set up – Aldrin will serve as a senior faculty advisor – there’s yet more hope for those wishing it happens in the coming decades.
Aldrin’s Mars mission masterplan
Aldrin began to “devise his master plan” back in 1985, a wonderful year for births on this planet (cough, cough).
His concept was called the ‘Aldrin Mars Cycler’, a spacecraft system with perpetual cycling orbits between Earth and Mars.
The new plan, dubbed ‘Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars’ will see pathways of progressive missions to cis-lunar space, asteroids, Mars’ moon Phobos, and eventually to the surface of Mars.
“I’m thrilled to be partnering with FIT in my new home state of Florida,” said Aldrin.
“I am proud of my time at NASA with the Gemini 12 and Apollo 11 programs but I hope to be remembered more for my contributions to the future.
“FIT will play a key role in my ongoing legacy and Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars. You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
Plenty to enjoy in the meantime
For those who can’t wait as long as a project this massive is certain to take, you can still enjoy Mars from the comfort of your own home – to a degree.
The 3D Mars simulator called Mars Trek is a free, web-based application that provides high-quality, detailed visualisations of the planet using real data from 50 years of NASA exploration.
And when we finally do set foot on the Martian plains, maybe NASA’s curiosity rover won’t look quite so tragically lonely:
Main image via Shutterstock