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Life on Mars Help (page 3)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 16, 2011

The Rigors Of Space Travel

The trip to Mars will take several months; this delay only adds to the tedium of interplanetary travel.

“Is there time enough for me to go down and visit my family for a while?” you ask.

“Yes,” says the first officer. “But not enough money. The new space shuttles are smaller, faster, more efficient, and less expensive to operate than the gigantic rocket-boosted ships of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, but they aren’t free, and this mission was difficult to get approved. Taking civilians such as yourself into space has always been unpopular with certain people in the establishment.”

You will watch more videos, read more books, and work out with ever-increasing devotion. The exercise is vital, and not just for staying in physical shape. An attitude problem can take hold of space travelers if they don’t get enough exercise. The captain had explained it once, when she was in one of her rare talkative moods.

“It’s called, logically enough, ‘space-travelers’ depression,’” she said. “It is like the old problem they used to call ‘cabin fever,’ except worse. Fortunately, there is a simple cure. It involves careful attention to nutrition, plenty of visible light at the same wavelengths as those from the Sun, and a great deal of aerobic exercise.”

So you take your vitamins. You make sure you eat the right foods, in the right amounts, and on the right schedule. You drink plenty of water. And you increase your workouts to twice a day, for an hour and a half each session. The last thing you need is to get depressed 50 million kilometers (30 million miles) from your home planet.

Entering Mars Orbit

By the time the ship nears the Red Planet, you are more video-literate, audio-literate, and aerobically fit than ever before in your life. “Most civilians,” the first officer explains, “are mistaken for California natives when they return to Earth from one of these journeys.”

“Why is that?” you ask.

“They are thin, they are fit, and they know every character in every movie produced during the last 100 years.”

The orbit around Mars, just as the trip from Earth to Mars, will be exactly in the Earth’s ecliptic plane (not that of Mars). There’s a good reason for this: fuel economy. Altering the plane of travel, even minutely, is a fuel-guzzling business. Because of this efficiency, the round trip between Earth and Mars requires less fuel than did the journey from Earth to Mercury, then to Venus, and then back to Earth.

Practice problems of this concept can be found at: Mars Practice Problems

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