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Watch the Humans to Mars Summit 2022: Red Planet travel and international relations take center stage

A big Mars discussion is coming to Washington, D.C. starting Tuesday (May 17).

The three-day event, hosted by Explore Mars (opens in new tab), features panel discussions and speakers from across the space industry, as well as NASA and international entities.

The conference has listed its schedule of events (opens in new tab) and all speakers (opens in new tab). The event will be hosted at George Washington University and you can register for various attendance options on EventBrite (opens in new tab). You can also catch a livestream (opens in new tab).

Related: A brief history of Mars missions 

An extraterrestrial abode for present-day life? The Red Planet, as seen by Europe's Mars Express.

Mars is looming big in the future following a busy year of private and Red Planet space exploration. (Image credit: ESA/D. O'Donnell – CC BY-SA IGO)

The event is taking place after a notable year for space tourism and private space exploration efforts, including flights by Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Axiom Space that brought several non-professionals into space that were not agency astronauts, although a few of them had related experience in piloting or similar fields. 

NASA is also aiming to send its first round-the-moon mission for the Artemis program, an uncrewed effort called Artemis 1. The mission has been delayed from an early springtime launch due to issues in getting the Space Launch System rocket ready for flight, but the agency is still hoping for 2022. 

Assuming funding and technology go to plan, the agency will follow this up with crewed missions in 2024 (around the moon) and 2025 (to the surface of the moon). NASA frames Artemis cislunar (moon-Earth) exploration as a proving ground to get ready for Mars exploration, as they both involve rocky worlds at some distance from Earth.

Mars exploration is also accelerating, with several countries having sent new missions to the Red Planet in 2021. The NASA set among these, the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter, have proven that flight is possible on Mars and are now jointly engaged in exploring a potentially life-rich river delta ahead of returning the samples to Earth in joint American-European mission.

A photograph taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter on the surface of Mars in April, just after the rover deployed the chopper.

A photograph taken by the Perseverance rover of the Ingenuity helicopter. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

"We are entering the golden age of space exploration," Chris Carberry, Explore Mars CEO, said in a statement (opens in new tab) about the summit. "H2M 2022 will not only examine how humans will return to the surface of the moon by the mid-2020s and then travel to Mars by the mid-2030s, but will also consider the extraordinary opportunities and innovations expected to materialize over the next decade."

In Explore Mars' words, here are some of the big topics that will be covered in this year's series of events.

  • Will Humans be on the Surface of the Moon by the Mid-2020s and Travel to Mars by the Mid-2030s?
  • Orbiting the Moon: Artemis 1 and 2
  • How can the Humans Landing System (HLS) Advance Human Missions to Mars?
  • International Space Relations: Space Diplomacy and Security in Challenging Times
  • Mars, Innovation, and Sustainability
  • Humans and Machines on the Surface of Mars
  • Nuclear vs. Chemical Propulsion to Mars
  • STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] Entertainment
  • Producing Food on Mars
  • Art and Music in Space
  • Keeping Crews Healthy and Happy During Long Duration Space Missions

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.