If you wanted to pay a visit to the red planet, how long would it take? The answer depends on a number of things, ranging from the position of the planets to the technology that would propel you there. Let's examine a few of the most important points.
To determine how long it will take to reach Mars, we must first know the distance between the two planets.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, and the second closest to Earth (Venus is the closest). But the distance between the two planets is constantly changing as they travel around the sun.
In theory, the closest that Earth and Mars would approach each other would be when Mars is at its closest point to the sun (perihelion) and Earth is at its farthest (aphelion). This would put the planets only 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) apart. However, this has never happened in recorded history. The closest approach of the two planets occurred in 2003, when they were only 34.8 million miles (56 million km) apart.
The two planets are farthest apart when they are both at their farthest from the sun, on opposite sides of the star. At this point, they can be 250 million miles (401 million km) apart.
The average distance between the two planets is 140 million miles (225 million km).
Light travels at approximately 186,282 miles per second (299,792 km per second). Therefore, a light shining from the surface of Mars would take the following amount of time to reach Earth (or vice versa):
Closest approach: 182 seconds, or just over 3 minutes
Farthest approach: 1,342 seconds, or just over 22 minutes
On average: 751 seconds, or just over 12.5 minutesVisit to know more about how long does it take to get to mars?
The fastest spacecraft launched from Earth was NASA's New Horizons mission, which is en route to Pluto. In January 2006, the probe left Earth at 36,000 mph (58,000 kph). The time it would take such a probe to get to Mars would be:
Closest approach: 942 hours (39 days)
Farthest approach: 6,944 hours (289 days)
On average: 3,888 hours (162 days)
Passionate areophile since my first ISDC in the 1980s
It depends on the orbital path you choose. The most popular one (and the best one, in my opinion) is called a “Hohmann transfer”— an opportunity for this comes up every 26 months or so, when Mars and Earth are approaching certain points in their orbits relative to one another, and I believe the opportunity window lasts a few months, depending on the performance of the spacecraft that’s making the journey. The trip takes about six months, though you can speed this up a little bit by adding more thrust at the beginning and more braking thrust at the end… go too fast, though, and you will stray from the Hohmann orbital path (it isn’t an invisible railroad, after all, it’s a vector through space at a certain speed, with a certain amount of leeway).
By the way, if you somehow manage to miss Mars or mess up your aerocapture maneuver so that you “bounce” off its atmosphere, you zing along that Hohmann transfer and wind up right back near Earth orbit… eighteen months later! A two-year total journey. So the spacecraft that goes to Mars must be prepared for a 2-year space voyage, even though it ought to only last six months.
Can be done in 4 to 7 months depending when you go (with chemical propulsion.) Nuclear could shorten this considerably.
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