Martian terrain
Panoramic view of Martian terrain by Mars rover. Photo: NASA

How many days would it take a manned mission to reach Mars?

-By Andrea Boggs 10/18/16

We can use data from the Cassini-Huygen mission to Saturn to set up an inequality to determine how many days it would take a manned spacecraft to travel to Mars on a spacecraft traveling at a similar speed as the unmanned Cassini-Huygen spacecraft traveled to Saturn.

Saturn’s average distance from Earth is about 887 million miles. 1 Cassini Huygen spacecraft a.k.a Cassini which currently orbits Saturn, after releasing the Huygen probe on Saturn's moon Titan back in 2006, left Earth on October 15th, 1997 and arrived in Saturn's orbit on July 1st, 2004. It took just under 7 years, or 6.7 years for Cassini Huygen spacecraft to reach Saturn’s orbit. 2

Mars’ average distance from the Earth is 140 million miles. 3 Based on this information, how many days do you estimate it will take humans to travel to Mars in a spacecraft?

You can set up an inequality and solve for the length of time it would take for humans to travel the 140 million miles to Mars, using the length of time (6.7 years) it took to send the unmanned spacecraft Cassini Huygens the distance (887 million miles) to Saturn.

(We are theorizing that a larger, manned spacecraft would probably not travel faster than a smaller unmanned spacecraft, even without the air resistance in space, however we are not absolutely certain of this theory. Our problem is part speculation and part prediction, but it is more accurate than a guess.)


Inequality for Mars problem

(Cross multiply and divide to get x by itself.)


x = 1.06 years or 386 days.


ANSWER: It will take a minimum of 386 days for astronauts to go to Mars.

Mars imaged by the Hubble telescope in 2003.

Photo: Hubble telescope/ NASA



-Written and calculated by Andrea Boggs 10/18/16 21:32


Reference list:
1) How many miles is Earth from Saturn?
2) Cassini Huygen Wikipedia
3) How far away is Mars?