By Clare Driscoll, ’19

President Barack Obama recently announced his partnership with NASA and over 1,000 companies across the nation. The plan: to have Americans on Mars by 2030.

In a document titled “Journey to Mars,” NASA outlines their hopes to discover four things from this mission: whether Mars has ever been home to microbial life, if Mars could be a safe home for humans one day, what Mars can teach us about life elsewhere in the cosmos, and what Mars can teach us about Earth’s past, present and future.

For the next decade, NASA plans to focus on Phase One by preparing astronauts for the voyage to Mars. In January 2016 NASA began taking applications for astronauts. They plan to announce the selected in March.

Once selected, astronauts will work to find ways to maintain healthy lifestyles while in space, developing communication system from Mars back to Earth, and learning to test materials collected from Mars.

The second phase will include various small missions to the red planet, where automated robots programmed for space missions will drop off materials astronauts will need once they reach Mars.

There will also be many missions orbiting Mars’ atmosphere before astronauts step foot on the surface. The goal of these missions is to make sure the astronauts can stay healthy through the long trips away from Earth.