Have you ever watched a science fiction movie or read a book that imagines what the future will be like for people on Earth or on other planets? Artists, authors and scholars are constantly thinking of what our future will be like, not just with technology, but also with culture and traditions. 

Imagine that you and your family were chosen to move to a new neighborhood....on Mars!

What would it be like to start a new life on another planet?  What would you want to bring to make it feel like home?

Come imagine with us!

On Demand Activities

Story Time Suggestions      Flights of Fancy Video      Mars Packing List Activity      Innovator Spotlight

This month's Soar Together is part of the museum's monthly theme on Latino Futurism. 

Latino Futurism is used to describe art, movies, or books that center the experiences of Latino people and explore the impact of science and technology from ancient to future worlds. Latino Futurism visualizes worlds where Latino cultures and important topics, like immigration and colonization, are represented in science fiction and our way of thinking about the future.

Story Time Suggestions

Check these books out at your school or library to explore stories about people traveling to a new place, immigrating to a new country or a new planet! 

Questions to talk about with your family:

  • What did they pack with them? 
  • How did the characters feel when they moved to a new place? 
  • What was different about their previous home?
Picture book for ages 0 to 8

Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, is not related to space travel, but highlights feelings and situations one will feel when moving to an unfamiliar place.

Picture book for ages 0 to 8

Molly on the Moon, written by Mary Robinette Kowal and illustrated by Diana Mayo, follows the story of a girl and her family's move to the Moon.

Chapter book for ages 9 to 12

We're Not From Here by Geoff Rodkey, is book about a boy and his family's move to another planet where humans are the aliens. Fun to read out loud with your kids!

Activity: Flights of Fancy Story Time - Mission to Mars

Watch this video to find out how friends Millie, Ruth and Lou imagine what it would be like to plan a trip, build a rocket, and travel on a mission to Mars. 

Talk about it: Did you notice that the three friends brought along their favorite clapping game with them?

What games or songs would you want to bring on your trip to Mars?

Activity: Mars Packing List

If you were to move to a new planet, like Mars, what would you bring to make it feel like home? 

Friends, family, pets, a certain food, toy, or blanket? 

What specific things can you think of that would make this new place really feel like "home" to you?

For this activity, create your family's Mars packing list!

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Pencil      
  • Markers or crayons    
  • Camera (optional)

An artist's rendering of the Mars Ice Home concept.

Courtesy of NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch

Learn more about the Mars Ice Home.

Mars facts to help you plan your move!

Step 1: Look around your living space at some of the things you use everyday, that are very special to you. Think about your favorite traditions throughout the year. Track your decisions either by taking pictures of the items, making a collection of them, or writing a list.

Step 2: Talk to member of your family and ask them, "If you were moving to a new planet, what would you want to bring with you to make it feel like home? Are there certain traditions that your grandparents have passed down through generations that you'd want to make sure continue?"

Step 3: Draw a space home! Use these space habitat templates to draw or label what you'd bring to Mars.

What would a house on Mars or the Moon look like? Here are some ideas from artists and engineers! 

Custom Image Caption

Previously on exhibit at the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building, Los Angeles-based artist Beatriz Cortez created a space-time capsule inspired by both ancient Mayan “chultunes,” stone containers carved to preserve precious natural and spiritual materials, and the 20th-century history of space travel. Learn more on the Arts and Industries building website.

Image credit: FotoBriceno. 

Custom Image Caption

This image shows an idea to make homes on the Moon using lunar soil. European Space Agency (ESA) is now collaborating with architects to test if this can be done with 3D printing.

Courtesy of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, of NASA.

Custom Image Caption

You can see what the inside could look like in this image.

Image Courtesy of ESA / Foster + Partners 

Innovator Spotlight - Rodolfo Neri Vela

Dr. Vela enjoying a tortilla on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1985.

Image courtesy of NASA

Commander Peggy A. Whitson onboard the International Space Station, with a hamburger on a tortilla.

  • Scientist and astronaut Dr. Rodolfo Neri Vela was the first Mexican in space, traveling on the Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1985.  He conducted experiments in space and helped launched the Mexican satellite, Morelos 2.
  • Dr. Vela changed the way astronauts eat on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station when he asked NASA food scientists for tortillas during his space flight. 
  • His fellow crewmates realized that tortillas were much better for making sandwiches and holding food, especially since they weren't crumbly like bread. Bread crumbs could get into equipment and air vents, causing problems. 
  • Ever since Dr. Vela's request, tortillas are a standard food item and favorite on the International Space Station!