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Mission to Mars: Ask the Expert

Our special Mission to Mars: Ask the Expert session, which took place on Thursday 11th February is now available to watch as a recorded video on YouTube. In this event, four of our Mars experts joined host Natalie Starkey to answer questions about Mars, why research of the Red Planet is important and explain what inspired them to follow their current career paths.


We have some resources that you might like to check out, which are suitable for all ages (Preschool and up, in case you have younger and/or older children who are watching too).

There is a 'follow along' sheet, which includes a reflective thinking exercise, to keep your child/children engaged during and after the session. This is suitable for Key Stage 2 and above (but check back soon as we may create a Secondary School level one too). You can download the 'follow along' sheet here to print.

We also have collated these reources for our intrepid space fans who might have been inspired to learn more about Mars.

Colouring Pages (Preschool and up) Perseverance RoverMarsCuriosity Rover ATLAS rocket

Mars activity packet - KS1 and above

Mission to Mars Student challenge (register as educator or individual student)

Explore Mars: Rover driving game (KS2 and up)

Adventure to Mars space game (KS1 and up)

Explore Mars with this Interactive (KS2 and up)

Games (Preschool and up)

The Mars collection (range of resources for KS3 and up)

Mars Rover: Perseverance (KS2 and up)

Space educator activities

NASA at home activities (Preschool to KS2)



Our host

Natalie Starkey is the Outreach and Public Engagement Officer in the School of Physical Sciences in the Faculty of STEM at The Open University. She is also a writer and science communicator. Natalie has a background in science research, with an MSci. from Durham University and a PhD from University of Edinburgh. She has studied volcanoes in the arctic and Caribbean, and analysed specks of space dust from comets and asteroids.

Our scientists

Susanne Schwenzer is a Senior Lecturer at The Open University and Associate Director of Astrobiology OU. Susanne has studied noble gases, such as krypton and xenon, which are found on Mars and looked at the reactions between water and rock that take place in impact craters on the red planet. Her studies have taken her around the world, from working at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, USA, to the Open University where she has continued to look at the meteorites from Mars. Since 2021 she is a participating scientist on the NASA Mars Science Laboratory mission (Curiosity Rover) to Gale Crater, Mars. She has also helped prepare the European mission to Mars by participating in training events on how to operate the Rosalind Franklin Rover, once it lands on Mars in 2023. 

James Holmes is a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Physical Sciences who primarily investigates atmospheric chemistry cycles on Mars using a combination of observations and computer modelling. His research is helping to investigate links between the atmospheric chemistry cycles and the main drivers of atmospheric processes, such as the dust and water cycles, by combining computer models with the latest observations from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter mission alongside multiple other spacecraft missions.

Amy Dugdale is a PhD Student with AstrobiologyOU. Amy developed an interest in planetary science and astrobiology in the summers between semesters of her undergraduate degree during internships at The University of Kent and The Open University. Her research looks at the modification of biosignatures at the landing site of the ExoMars rover and she enjoys sharing her work at outreach events and is always happy to talk about Mars!

Mario Toubes-Rodrigo is a post-doctoral researcher in Astrobiology OU and his research looks at trying to understand if life could exist on Mars. To do this he looks at Mars-like environments on Earth and one of these places are some of the very salty lakes in Canada. Mario researches the gases that are produced in these lakes and compares them to the gases found on Mars.