Bill Nye and his organization, The Planetary Society, have discussed in detail the possibility of astronauts landing on the surface of Mars by 2039, following up on plans presented by NASA earlier this year.
The Daily Times Gazette shared on Monday details about the workshop hosted last week by The Planetary Society, which focused on NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory report.
"Getting humans to Mars is far more complex than getting to Earth's Moon," Nye said during the workshop. "But space exploration brings out the best in us. By reaching consensus on the right set of missions, we can send humans to Mars without breaking the bank."
"We believe we now have an example of a long term, cost constrained, executable humans to Mars program," added professor Scott Hubbard, workshop chair for the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. "This workshop was an important step in community-building among the many groups interested in Mars science and exploration."
The plans discussed by the 70 participants who attended the conference in Washington, D.C. outlined a mission to Mars' orbit by 2033, followed by reaching the planet's surface by 2039.
The Planetary Society assessed the possibility of sending people to Earth's closest neighbor, and looked at challenges such as the cost and budget of carrying out such a project. It determined that a mission to Mars would indeed be feasible and fall under NASA's budget.
"While the conditions for another Apollo-era Kennedy moment don't exist, we have a highly skilled scientific engineering and policy community that is eager to get going on sending humans to Mars," said John Logsdon, workshop co-chair and professor emeritus, Space Policy Institute, Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. "We believe the consensus points achieved during this workshop can get us moving down the path to the red planet."
Travel from Earth to Mars is expected to take 18 months, with another 30 months planned to orbit Phobos, one of Mars' moons, and a further 12 months in which Mars itself will be orbited.
The Space Review noted that a key component to any mission to Mars will be NASA's development of the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which will feature technology with a robotic element that allows for the grabbing of boulders off the surface of a larger near-Earth asteroid, and will be applicable in future missions.
Nye, known as the "Science Guy" from his popular children's PBS show, also made headlines in February 2014 with his public debate on the subject of evolution and creationism with Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham.