Explore Mars Issues Report with Findings & Recommendations

The Humans to Mars Report 2017

Explore Mars, Inc.
Full Report (PDF)


  • The wide range of architectures for the exploration of Mars and the credibility of the institutions and companies producing them demonstrate both the wide interest in Mars exploration and the positive opinions of the viability of current technology to achieve it.
  • Mars exploration architectures must consider and address affordability, including how the architecture will return appropriate value to its stakeholders, as a fundamental requirement for credibility.
  • Sustainability is also a fundamental requirement and will be driven by, besides affordability, international and commercial partnerships. To effectively engage these partners, clear consideration of their contributions and objectives must be made.
  • A well-defined set of accepted scientific objectives will anchor coordination between the human spaceflight and science communities and ensure the widest possible support for human exploration of Mars.
  • Timely identification of strategic knowledge gaps and a robust technology demonstration program is needed to mature systems for Mars explorations. Testing systems at the International Space Station and in cislunar space would provide valuable operations experience for Mars systems.
  • Robotic reconnaissance of Mars from orbit and on the surface is needed to finalize selection of landing sites and inform technology development and system design.
  • The ongoing discussion and development of systems and architectures for deep space exploration is valuable with each idea contributing new perspectives and possibilities. Architecture choices must be rational and transparent to maximize participation. Open and wide ranging discussion will produce the strongest possible Mars architecture.
  • Mars is achievable.

Recommendations for 2017

  • The question ‘Why Mars? needs to be better articulated by the space community.
  • After NASA, the media/press provide the primary influence on public perception. Better relationships must be built with the national and international press, and press briefings should be scheduled more regularly, to ensure that the public is furnished with the facts about Mars exploration.
  • Dispel the $1 trillion myth: Recent studies have shown that human missions to Mars will only cost a fraction of this amount.
  • Better storytelling: NASA and the space community need to explain better the path to Mars and how current programs will advance that path.
  • Strengthen Hollywood partnerships: NASA and the space community regularly collaborate with the entertainment industry, but these ties need to be strengthened to amplify the messaging for human missions to Mars.

Continuing Recommendations From  2016:

  • Early research indicates that the level of press coverage for Mars has increased over the past eight years and that positive press coverage now greatly exceeds negative press coverage. Comprehensive press analysis should be conducted to verify and quantify this trend.
  • Special emphasis should be made to inform the public that landing humans on Mars by 2033 is an achievable goal.
  • While international and private lunar surface missions should be applauded, increased education needs to be undertaken to articulate why lunar surface operations are not the best path to Mars