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Science & Technology

Mars: Living on Another Planet

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 16:07 min

Chris walks through the basic human needs required to live on another planet. Learn what it takes to grow food in space, protect ourselves from the elements, and readjust to gravity.

Chris Hadfield
Teaches Space Exploration
The former commander of the International Space Station teaches you the science of space exploration and what the future holds.
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Growing crops onboard the Space Station would actually solve a couple problems if we could do it. It would give us a sustainable food source and we wouldn't just be digging into our pantry all the time. It would also convert carbon dioxide back into oxygen, just like plants do on Earth. But it's very difficult to count on it. It's complex. It's not a natural place for plants to grow. The complexity of trying to give them an environment where you can 100% count on them growing into the next cycle. What plant should we grow? Should it be like in the movies, potatoes? Or should it be some other plant? Should it be tomatoes? Maybe it should be string beans, something that is the right combination of all the things that we need to stay healthy as human beings. Maybe we're always going to have to have a compromise between some high energy or high protein packaged food, and some of the bulk food that we can grow on board. And it's the thing that we're testing onboard the Space Station. I'm sure when we set up a research station on the moon, where there's a little bit of gravity, about 1/6th Earth gravity, where we can then see how plants grow there and how they can grow in a higher radiation and slightly more hostile environment than on Earth. And through all of that, eventually figure out-- not just a spaceship that will take us to Mars, but a like a little traveling farm that will take us to Mars as well. There's not only going to be engineers and test pilots on that first crew to Mars. You're going to need a farmer onboard, some sort of botanist or horticulturalist just to keep you alive. When I came back from my spaceflights, I did not feel right. My first flight was only a little over a week. I was kind of wobbly, I was OK. It was sort of like I had a really bad cold, or I'd been drinking, or it was like I'd been spinning and now I'd stopped spinning. I was OK, but I obviously wasn't normal. After my second flight, which was a little over two weeks, I felt the same, only slightly worse. But my third flight when I was in space for five months, I felt terrible when I got back. My balance system wasn't still in the process of adapting to spaceflight. It had changed. Because I'd been in weightlessness for so long, my whole way of silently sensing which way was up and my inner ear working with my eyes and working with the weight of my body, trying to tell me where I was, it had changed. To stop me being an earthling and more to try and plasticly adapt me to being a space-ling. I was also nauseous because just everything was so disorienting. And my muscles hadn't been fighting gravity, so it felt weird to move. And my skeleton was a little more fragile because I hadn't been able to exercise it and put loads on it like I had on Earth. Even though I exercised two hours a day, there were still changes physiologically to my body. All of those took time to recover from, but I was back on Earth, and there were a whole team of doctors that...

Explore the unknown

Impossible things happen. At age nine, Chris Hadfield knew he wanted to go to space. He eventually went there three times, becoming a commander of the International Space Station. In his MasterClass, Chris teaches you what it takes to explore space and what the future holds for humans in the final frontier. Learn about the science of space travel, life as an astronaut, and how flying in space will forever change the way you think about living on Earth.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

An excellent introduction for new beginners to the study of space exploration and those who have been following closely for years! Thankyou!

I loved the class. Chris gave good insight with his knowledge and experience. I will re-watch this class gain.

Grateful and motivated to pursue dreams beyond what's possible now. Knowing that I may not live to see even completion of a part of it. Thanks Chris!

A super satisfying testimony of a Humble Professional, who saw the world for what it is... Thank you a thousand times for this class... My best regards to Comander Hadfield. People like him are the ones that make humanity simply great!


William D.

I started these lesson looking for detail and technical information. I have been tremendously disappointed. I learned more about hydroponics at Disney Land, EPCOT center than I did here. While I agree that we should look at multiple ways to solve problems, I feel that Chris is predisposed to think that the "Russian" way must be better. Sorry, I don't buy it.

Aileen C.

I remember the first science fiction book I read - the Martian Chronicles. Then, came Disneyland and the fantastical rides of Tomorrowland. I have always been fascinated and terrified of Space and the unknown. It is truly amazing to me that the human mind is so brilliant and to me it is even magical that we can use our minds to actually consider and design ways of traveling to other planets (whether it is conceptual or actual) - I am truly in awe and my respect (and Love) for these people is immense

Maddie W.

The Martian has always been one of my favorite movies so I really enjoyed this discussion. People sometimes underestimate the impact science fiction has on future innovations; once you have an idea, that's when the design and technicalities then begin to tape shape. I've seen lots of great ideas in this video and the comments so it will be interesting to see how we test some of these things on Earth and the Moon. One of the professors at my university uses giant magnets to simulate weightlessness for bone cell experiments; I wonder if something similar could be used for structural design and other simulations on Earth. I also really like how Chris referred to a future Mars astronaut as female. I've always looked up to the female astronauts and their accomplishments and it feels really inspiring to acknowledge that contribution and show the worthiness and value of women in STEM fields.

Rudolf B.

Instead of waiting 2 weeks in the arrival ship to re-adapt after the long period of weightlessness, the astronaut could use the exoskeleton suit solution proposed in an earlier lesson. She can wear the suit immediately after landing, using the limb hydraulics to help her stay mobile and properly function. Over time, as she gradually regains her strength, it would be a good feature for the suit to have an adjustment feature that allows the astronaut to decrease the suit's level of hydraulic assistance, eventually leading to zero assistance once she regains her full muscle strength. Just a thought.

Sergio N A.

Microgravity has a lot of effects on the human body, structurally, physiologically as well as to the molecular level involving the DNA. Travel to Mars needs an artificial gravity on their spaceship similar to that on Earth in order to maintain normal health on the astronauts, otherwise they die on Mars. The best radiation protection in Mars is to build habitats underground. Water can be mined from Martian rigolith as well as other gases that can be used for life support as well as for energy.

laura J.

My question is regarding water, we want to be on Mars because of water? If that is true, how do we know the water on Mars is not toxic to humans?

A fellow student

Light goes from the sun to the earth in 8 minutes, curious how he is getting 22 minutes?

Denny C.

Real-life situations are extremely necessary to address and solve before travel to Mars can be considered. We must find a way for comms can be performed in real-time.


I'm fascinated with the horticulture part of this. My vision of a farmer in space is a spacesuit with overalls. It's jus a fun thought.

Terra C.

something engineered on Mars, working with the conditions of Mars, maybe after adapting Earth engineered things to get by, or get there in the first place.