Press Releases  |  2.1.2017

New Space-themed STEM Mission Takes Students to the Red Planet

WASHINGTON (February 2, 2017) – Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, will expand its space-themed education offerings with Expedition Mars, a new simulated mission. By mid-February, nearly 20 Challenger Learning Centers will have the new program, complete training and prepare to offer it to students in their communities.

“Expedition Mars further strengthens our commitment to the development of unique, experiential education programs that emphasize the importance of critical 21st century skills and give students the chance to apply STEM knowledge to real world scenarios,” said Robert Piercey, vice president of education, Challenger Center. “This mission transports students into the future, gives them a chance to take on roles similar to those of scientists and astronauts working today, and allows them to explore the surface of Mars with their peers.”

Expedition Mars is set in the future, around 2076, where a handful of facilities have been established on the Martian surface and the primary human habitat is located on Mars’ moon Phobos. Students are tasked to land on the Martian surface and look for evidence of life and water on Mars while keeping their teammates safe. Through both project- and problem-based learning, students take on a variety of tasks. Some team members reprogram communications satellites, calculate and plot a course to Mars from Phobos, test soil, or examine Martian rocks using robotic arms, while others monitor the health of the crew, locate missing satellites and check radiation levels.

The accelerated release of Expedition Mars is part of CodeRed: My STEM Mission, a robust 5-year project in collaboration with the NASA under Agreement Number NNX16AD70A issued through the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Education Cooperative Agreement Notice. An additional 10 Centers will offer Expedition Mars in 2018. Other CodeRed program elements in development include a planetary science flipped classroom course, community engagement days and STEM-focused careers apps for both parents and students.

Expedition Mars is the third new space-themed mission released by Challenger Center in the last three years. Development of a fourth mission, Operation Comet, is currently underway. Mission availability and program offerings vary from Center to Center. To learn more about Challenger Center and its STEM education programs, visit

About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers use experiential, education programs to engage students in dynamic, hands-on learning opportunities. These programs strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. Learn more at Connect on Facebook @ChallengerCtr and Twitter @ChallengerCtr.

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Media Contact:
Lisa Vernal
Challenger Center
202-827-1573 /