The Mars Odyssey that was launched in 2001 by NASA reached Mars in around six months. New technology, however, may make it possible to reach Mars in just 39 days. NASA is working on a Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) that turns fuel into plasma gas. Depending on where in the orbit cycle the two planets are, Mars is anywhere from about 34 million miles (54.6 million kilometers) to 250 million miles (401 million kilometers) from Earth.
More Mars Facts:
- The length of a day on Mars is slightly longer than on Earth at 24 hours and 37 minutes, but it's a bit chillier — the average temperature on Mars is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-62.8 degrees Celsius).
- The plasma gas in VASIMR would be heated to 51.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (11 million degrees Celsius), allowing the rocket to travel at speeds up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) per second.
- Mars is home to the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, which is about three times as tall as Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on Earth. It is about 68,897 feet (20,999 meters) tall.