Lunar and Planetary Institute

Life on Mars
EXPLORE! Life on Mars

Welcome to Life on Mars?

Is there life on Mars? Within our solar system, Mars has always been in the forefront of our search for life beyond Earth. From little green men to alien-made canals, our imaginations have sometimes gotten the better of us, but as missions shed new light on the red planet, our hopes for uncovering the building blocks of life on another world are renewed. Explore: Life on Mars? will introduce children to and engage them in the science of life in the universe (i.e., astrobiology) and Mars.

Through hands-on investigations and discussions, children will build an understanding of five key messages relating to the search for life on Mars: 

1) Living things have certain recognizable properties.
2) Life as we know it requires liquid water, energy, nutrients, and shelter to Survive.
3) Life exists in all sorts of environments on Earth, including extreme ones.
4) Earth is the only planet known to offer liquid water, moderate temperatures, and protection from radiation due to its atmosphere and distance from the Sun.
5) Mars is a good candidate for helping us to understand the likelihood of life beyond Earth by comparing its past and present environment with Earth's.

The Life on Mars? activities were developed in accord with guidelines set forth by the National Science Education Standards and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) benchmarks, and they are designed for 8 to 13 year olds with special consideration toward effectively engaging girls in science.

You may design your own program with one or more of these flexible activities, or you may choose to build the story of Mars and the search for life beyond Earth through the completion of the entire series in your programs. Explore activities have been used as part of science clubs in the library, in family science exploration nights or Science Saturdays, with story time, during night-sky viewings, and in many other out-of-classroom programs. Background information, an implementation guide, and facilitator resources are provided to help you prepare to lead the activities. Encourage further exploration with the books, websites, and videos listed in the resource section.

Last updated
June 24, 2013