how long does it take

How long does it take đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars? This graphic illustration of an astronaut on Mars looking back at Earth makes the red Planet look a lot closer phàn nàn it is..
How long does it take đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars? Travel time đồ sộ the Red Planet depends on several factors including the position of the planets and available technology. (Image credit: Nzoka John via Getty Images)

Ever wondered how long does it take đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars? 

The answer depends on several factors, ranging from the position of Earth and Mars đồ sộ the technology that would propel you there. According đồ sộ NASA, a one-way trip đồ sộ the Red Planet would take about nine months. If you wanted đồ sộ make it a round-trip, all in all, it would take about 21 months as you will need đồ sộ wait about three months on Mars đồ sộ make sure Earth and Mars are in a suitable location đồ sộ make the trip back trang chủ. 

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We take a look at how long a trip đồ sộ the Red Planet would take using available technology and explore some of the factors that would affect your travel time.

Related: Curiosity rover: 15 awe-inspiring photos of Mars (gallery) 

How far away is Mars?

To determine how long it will take đồ sộ reach Mars, we must first know the distance between the two planets.

Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, and the second closest đồ sộ Earth (Venus is the closest). But the distance between Earth and Mars 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 đồ sộ 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 recorded 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 Earth and Mars is 140 million miles (225 million km).

Related: What is the temperature on Mars?

How long would it take đồ sộ travel đồ sộ Mars at the tốc độ of light?

Image of Mars against the Black backdrop of space. The planet is a rusty red color.

The average distance between Earth and Mars the two planets is 140 million miles (225 million km). The distance between the two planets affects how long it would take đồ sộ travel between the two.  (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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 đồ sộ reach Earth (or vice versa):

  • Closest possible approach: 182 seconds, or 3.03 minutes
  • Closest recorded approach: 187 seconds, or 3.11 minutes
  • Farthest approach: 1,342 seconds, or 22.4 minutes
  • On average: 751 seconds, or just over 12.5 minutes

Fastest spacecraft so sánh far

The fastest spacecraft is NASA's Parker Solar Probe, as it keeps breaking its own tốc độ records as it moves closer đồ sộ the sun. On Nov 21, 2021, the Parker Solar Probe reached a top tốc độ of 101 miles (163 kilometers) per second during its 10th close flyby of our star, which translates đồ sộ a phenomenal 364,621 mph (586,000 kph). According đồ sộ a NASA statement, when the Parker Solar Probe comes within 4 million miles (6.2 million kilometers) of the solar surface in December 2024, the spacecraft's tốc độ will top 430,000 miles per hour (692,000 kph)!

Graphic illustration shows the Parker Solar Probe in front of the blazing sun.

NASA's Parker Solar Probe is currently the fastest spacecraft ever launched. (Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)

So if you were theoretically able đồ sộ hitch a ride on the Parker Solar Probe and take it on a detour from its sun-focused mission đồ sộ travel in a straight line from Earth đồ sộ Mars, traveling at the speeds the probe reaches during its 10th flyby (101 miles per second), the time it would take you đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars would be:

  • Closest possible approach: 93 hours 
  • Closest recorded approach: 95 hours  
  • Farthest approach: 686 hours (28.5 days)  
  • On average: 384 hours (16 days)  

Mars travel time Q&A with an expert

We asked Michael Khan, ESA Senior Mission Analyst some frequently asked questions about travel times đồ sộ Mars. 

Michael Khan is a Senior Mission Analyst for the European Space Agency (ESA). His work involves studying the orbital mechanics for journeys đồ sộ planetary bodies including Mars.

How long does it take đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars & what affects the travel time?

The time it takes đồ sộ get from one celestial toàn thân đồ sộ another depends largely on the energy that one is willing đồ sộ expend. Here  "energy" refers to the effort put in by the launch vehicle and the sum of the maneuvers of the rocket motors aboard the spacecraft, and the amount of propellant that is used. In space travel, everything boils down đồ sộ energy. Spaceflight is the clever management of energy.

Some common solutions for transfers đồ sộ the moon are 1) the Hohmann-like transfer and 2) the Free Return Transfer. The Hohmann Transfer is often referred đồ sộ as the one that requires the lowest energy, but that is true only if you want the transfer đồ sộ last only a few days and, in addition, if some constraints on the launch apply. Things get very complicated from there on, so sánh I won't go into details.

Concerning transfers đồ sộ Mars, these are by necessity interplanetary transfers, i.e., orbits that have the sun as central toàn thân. Otherwise, much of what was said above applies: the issue remains the expense of energy. An additional complication lies in the fact that the Mars orbit is quite eccentric and also its orbit plane is inclined with respect đồ sộ that of the Earth. And of course, Mars requires longer đồ sộ orbit the sun phàn nàn the Earth does. All of this is taken into tài khoản in a common type of diagram called the "pork chop plot", which essentially tells you the required dates of departure and arrival and the amount of energy required.

The "pork chop plot" shows the trajectory expert that opportunities for Mars transfers arise around every 25-26 months, and that these transfers are subdivided into different classes, one that is a bit faster, with typically around 5-8 months and the other that takes about 7-11 months. There are also transfers that take a lot longer, but I’m not talking about those here. Mostly, but not always, the second, slower one turns out đồ sộ be more efficient energy-wise. A rule of thumb is that the transfer đồ sộ Mars takes around as long as the human period of gestation, approximately 9 months. But that really is no more phàn nàn an approximate value; you still have đồ sộ vì thế all the math đồ sộ find out what applies đồ sộ a specific date.

Xem thêm: tranh đề tài tự do

Why are journey times a lot slower for spacecraft intending đồ sộ orbit or land on the target toàn thân e.g. Mars compared đồ sộ those that are just going đồ sộ fly by?

If you want your spacecraft đồ sộ enter Mars orbit or đồ sộ land on the surface, you add a lot of constraints đồ sộ the design problem. For an orbiter, you have đồ sộ consider the significant amount of propellant required for orbit insertion, while for a lander, you have đồ sộ design and build a heat shield that can withstand the loads of atmospheric entry. Usually, this will mean that the arrival velocity of Mars cannot exceed a certain boundary. Adding this constraint đồ sộ the trajectory optimisation problem will limit the range of solutions you obtain đồ sộ transfers that are Hohmann-like. This usually leads đồ sộ an increase in transfer duration.

The problems with calculating travel times đồ sộ Mars

The problem with the previous calculations is that they measure the distance between the two planets as a straight line. Traveling through the farthest passing of Earth and Mars would involve a trip directly through the sun, while spacecraft must of necessity move in orbit around the solar system's star.

Although this isn't a problem for the closest approach, when the planets are on the same side of the sun, another problem exists. The numbers also assume that the two planets remain at a constant distance; that is, when a probe is launched from Earth while the two planets are at the closest approach, Mars would remain the same distance away over the length of time it took the probe đồ sộ travel. 

Related: A brief history of Mars missions

In reality, however, the planets are moving at different rates during their orbits around the sun. Engineers must calculate the ideal orbits for sending a spacecraft from Earth đồ sộ Mars. Like throwing a dart at a moving target from a moving vehicle, they must calculate where the planet will be when the spacecraft arrives, not where it is when it leaves Earth. 

It's also not possible đồ sộ travel as fast as you can possibly go if your aim is đồ sộ eventually orbit your target planet. Spacecraft need đồ sộ arrive slow enough đồ sộ be able đồ sộ perform orbit insertion maneuvers and not just zip straight past their intended destination. 

The travel time đồ sộ Mars also depends on the technological developments of propulsion systems.

According đồ sộ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's trang web, the ideal lineup for a launch đồ sộ Mars would get you đồ sộ the planet in roughly nine months. The trang web quotes physics professor Craig C. Patten, of the University of California, San Diego:

"It takes the Earth one year đồ sộ orbit the sun and it takes Mars about 1.9 years (say 2 years for easy calculation) đồ sộ orbit the sun. The elliptical orbit which carries you from Earth đồ sộ Mars is longer phàn nàn Earth's orbit but shorter phàn nàn Mars' orbit. Accordingly, we can estimate the time it would take đồ sộ complete this orbit by averaging the lengths of Earth's orbit and Mars' orbit. Therefore, it would take about one and a half years đồ sộ complete the elliptical orbit.

"In the nine months it takes đồ sộ get đồ sộ Mars, Mars moves a considerable distance around in its orbit, about three-eighths of the way around the sun. You have đồ sộ plan đồ sộ make sure that by the time you reach the distance of Mar's orbit, Mars is where you need it đồ sộ be! Practically, this means that you can only begin your trip when Earth and Mars are properly lined up. This only happens every 26 months. That is, there is only one launch window every 26 months."

The trip could be shortened by burning more fuel — a process not ideal with today's technology, Patten said.

Evolving technology can help đồ sộ shorten the flight. NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) will be the new workhorse for carrying upcoming missions, and potentially humans, đồ sộ the red planet. SLS is currently being constructed and tested, with NASA now targeting a launch in March or April 2022 for its Artemis 1 flight, the first flight of its SLS rocket.

Robotic spacecraft could one day make the trip in only three days. Photon propulsion would rely on a powerful laser đồ sộ accelerate spacecraft đồ sộ velocities approaching the tốc độ of light. Philip Lubin, a physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his team are working on Directed Energy Propulsion for Interstellar Exploration (DEEP-IN). The method could propel a 220-lb. (100 kilograms) robotic spacecraft đồ sộ Mars in only three days, he said.

"There are recent advances which take this from science fiction đồ sộ science reality," Lubin said at the năm ngoái NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) fall symposium. "There's no known reason why we cannot vì thế this." 

How long did past missions take đồ sộ reach Mars?

Here is an infographic detailing how long it took several historical missions đồ sộ reach the Red Planet (either orbiting or landing on the surface). Their launch dates are included for perspective. 

Timeline of missions đồ sộ Mars.

Here is a list of how long it took several historical missions đồ sộ reach the red planet (either orbiting or landing on the surface). Their launch dates are included for perspective. (Image credit: Future)

Additional resources

Explore NASA's lunar exploration plans with their Moon đồ sộ Mars overview. You can read about how đồ sộ get people from Earth đồ sộ Mars and safely back again with this informative article on The Conversation. Curious about the human health risks of a mission đồ sộ the Red Planet? You may find this research paper of particular interest.  


  • Lubin, Philip. "A roadmap đồ sộ interstellar flight." arXiv preprint arXiv:1604.01356 (2016). 
  • Donahue, Ben B. "Future Missions for the NASA Space Launch System." AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2021 Forum. 2021. 
  • Srinivas, Susheela. "Hop, Skip and Jump—The Moon đồ sộ Mars Mission." (2019). 

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Daisy Dobrijevic joined in February 2022 having previously worked for our sister publication All About Space magazine as a staff writer. Before joining us, Daisy completed an editorial internship with the Đài truyền hình BBC Sky at Night Magazine and worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester, U.K., where she enjoyed communicating space science đồ sộ the public. In 2021, Daisy completed a PhD in plant physiology and also holds a Master's in Environmental Science, she is currently based in Nottingham, U.K.