What’s Next for American Astronauts 50 Years After the Moon Landing? 

Filed in American Culture by on July 30, 2019 0 Comments

This month, the United States celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. After years of a tense “space race” between the United States and the then-Soviet Union, American astronauts became the first to land on and walk on the moon.

This feat—globally recognized as one of the most important scientific advancements of the 20th century—paved way for future accomplishments in space travel and exploration. Much of what we’ve learned about our universe is a result of the hardworking men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. government agency which first put the Apollo 11 space ship and its astronauts on the moon.

50 years later, and the United States still leads the way in space exploration. As a J-1 visitor, you may want to learn what your host country is planning for the future in space.

The planet Mars is NASA’s next great frontier in space. Their upcoming Mars 2020 Rover Mission is one of the largest projects the federal agency is working on. It is part of NASA’s long-term effort in utilizing robots to explore Mars—and ultimately determine whether the Red Planet can ever be habitable for humans.

NASA plans to launch the rover into space in late July or early August of 2020, when both Earth and Mars are best aligned for the quickest travel between the two planets. The rover is expected to land on Mars by February 2021.

The Mars 2020 Rover Mission will go a step further than past explorations of the Red Planet. In previous missions, these robots looked for signs of habitable conditions in the ancient past. This time, NASA will be looking for signs of more recent microbial life. The rover will use a drill to collect rock and soil samples that can later be shipped back to Earth and studied in laboratories.

In addition to collecting these samples, the rover will be able to gather information on one of the biggest scientific questions of our lifetime—can humans ever live on Mars?

The Mars 2020 rover will test methods for producing oxygen on the planet, identify resources (like water buried beneath Mars’ surface), and improve landing techniques. It will also study weather, dust, and other environmental conditions that could potentially impact astronauts living and working on Mars in the future.

The United States’ efforts on Mars could prove to be the Apollo 11 moon landing of our time. That same spirit of ingenuity and curiosity seen in July 1969 may very well catapult American astronauts to Mars in the not-so-distant future.