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Mars Base: Now Accepting Applications

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 1.5 hours

Materials: Moderate

Download the PDF version (608 KB)


Experts think that Mars will supply a number of answers to the questions we still have about Earth, the formation of the solar system, and possibly even the origins of life. Visiting Mars, or establishing a human presence there, would be an incredible achievement and would allow us to advance our knowledge of science and the universe.

A mission to Mars is a difficult undertaking. So far, only a few rovers have made it to the red planet, landed, and were able to transmit data. NASA was the first to land a spacecraft safely on the surface of Mars on , as part of its Viking program. It was the first time anyone on Earth had seen images of Mars taken from the surface of the planet.

A crewed mission to Mars is an exciting prospect, but there are many challenges that must be addressed before sending humans to another planet. The scientific community is currently characterizing cosmic rays and how hazardous they may be to an astronaut's health. For example, the International Space Station crew is subjected to twice the level of radiation they would receive on Earth. Entry into the Martian atmosphere is a crucial stage of the mission and represents a massive obstacle to its success. Various factors-such as the density of the Martian atmosphere, a sandstorm, an outcrop of rock, the spacecraft's speed, a faulty trajectory, a lack of fuel, or an electronic glitch-could jeopardize a mission. Another difficulty is the communications lag between Earth and a spacecraft travelling to Mars. Depending on the distance between the two, it can take almost 20 minutes to send commands, and then another 20 minutes before a response is received. Scientists must react quickly when problems arise, and then wait with great patience for the response, which will arrive 40 minutes after they send the initial signal.

Mission description

In this activity, a habitable base is being built on Mars, and a team of executives must decide which workers to send to space to help advance and complete the Martian base. There are limited spots available, so the working professionals must effectively communicate their applicable strengths and skills, and the executive committee must work together to decide which professionals to hire in order to achieve their goals for the base. The participants will be divided into two groups. One group will represent the executive committee, and the other will be the working professionals. The executive committee has five goals for the new Martian base. They are looking for professionals whose skills and experience align with those goals. The working professionals will research their job title to complete their résumé. They will present their résumés to the executive committee. In order for the professionals to obtain a position on the Martian base, they must successfully communicate their skills, expertise, and goals to the executive committee during an interview.

The total number of positions available on the Martian base depends on the group size and can be determined by the activity facilitator. For example, a group of 24 will have 12 executive committee members, 12 working professionals, and eight job vacancies.

After the interviews, the executive committee will meet to discuss their candidates and make hiring decisions.

As there are no correct answers for this activity, the participants can be assessed based on their cooperation, communication, and teamwork abilities.


Breakdown Duration
Introduction and assignment of groups; assignment of working professional titles. 15 minutes
Executive committee works as a team to review and complete their instructions. Simultaneously, working professionals research their assigned job titles and complete their résumés. 30 minutes
Each executive committee member is partnered with a working professional. 1 minute
Quick interviews are conducted. 10 minutes
Executive committee makes hiring decisions; working professionals answer reflection questions with a partner or in a small group. 15 minutes
One person from executive committee announces chosen professionals and explains why they were chosen. 5 minutes
Wrap-up 10 minutes
Total 1 hour, 30 minutes


Participants will improve their communication and teamwork skills while learning about different types of professions.


By the end of the activity, participants will be able to:

Mission preparation


Participants will need to have access to the Internet or a library in order to conduct research.

Mission instructions

  1. Introduce the participants to the activity using the background information.
  2. Divide the participants into two groups: executive committee and working professionals.
  3. Randomly assign job titles to the professionals group.
  4. The executive committee works as a team to review and complete their instructions. Simultaneously, the working professionals research their assigned job titles and complete their résumés.
  5. Partner each executive committee member with a working professional.
  6. Quick interviews are conducted.
  7. The executive committee makes hiring decisions, and the working professionals answer reflection questions with a partner or in a small group.
  8. One person from the executive committee announces the chosen professionals and explains why they were chosen.
  9. Hold a wrap-up discussion about the activity experience.

Download the participant handout (PDF, 456 KB)

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