Skip main navigation

Your mission to Mars: the data

Your mission to Mars - the data.
© University of East Anglia

The following scenario is much more demanding in terms of the maths problems you are going to tackle, but there are lots of hints and help, which you don’t need to use, but are there if you get stuck.

The following bar chart illustrates the rate of muscle loss experienced by SkyLab crews during their various missions.

Skylab bar chart

Reference for this bar chart

Below is a data set, created solely for the purposes of this exercise. It describes the reduction in three health indicators with increasing mission length.

Days into mission % Reduction in body mass % Reduction in leg strength % Reduction in cardiac output
10 2.15% 2.50% 1.50%
20 4.30% 5.00% 3.00%
30 6.45% 7.50% 4.50%
40 8.60% 10.00% 6.00%
50 10.75% 12.50% 7.50%
60 12.90% 15.00% 9.00%
  • Journey times vary considerably according to the relative positions of Earth and Mars at the time of launch. For your mission use a figure of 220 days each way.

  • Acceleration due to gravity on Earth is approximately 10 m s-2. (Actual value is 9.8 m s-2, but it is usually rounded up to 10.) Then Acceleration due to gravity on mars is is 3.8 m s-2. To match what we do with Earth gravity, we will round this up to 4 m s-2.

  • If an astronaut has a mass of 100 kg on Earth, their weight would be = 100 kg x 10 m s-2 = 1000 kg m s-2 or 1000 Newtons (N)

  • On Mars the weight of this astronaut would be 100 kg x 4 m s-2 = 400 N

What would be the mass and the weight of the astronaut in deep space?

Using the data in the table, what would the mass of the astronaut be 30 days into the mission?

© University of East Anglia
This article is from the free online

Preparing for University

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education