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MarsBound!: Mission to the Red Planet

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MarsBound!: Mission to the Red Planet

MarsBound! is an engineering simulation activity in which learners use realistic techniques to plan a mission to Mars. The goal of this four-part activity is to use the excitement of Mars exploration as the hook for getting learners interested in the process of systems engineering design, science, and technology. During the activity, learners explore current science objectives, establish their own goals, consider engineering, budget, and safety constraints, build a spacecraft prototype, and write a complete design specifications report. Once successfully completed, learners can receive a "Certified Mission Planner" Certificate.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
2 to 4 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
    • Solar System
      • The Planets
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
    • Technology
      • Energy and Power
      • Transportation
  • Mathematics
    • Number and Operations
    • Problem Solving
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
      • Work and Machines
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
      • Risks and Benefits
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Financial Literacy
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Watt, M.A., M.S., Keith


  • All Rights Reserved, ASU Mars Education Program, ©2003