Mission to Mars in Arizona

TRIP LENGTH: 6 DAYS (*Starting at $1255)

Itinerary can be customized to fit within your time frame or budgetary needs

Give them a taste of Mars and hopefully inspire them as Star Trek said so many years ago “To go boldly where no man has gone before”.  Just maybe we can create a vision in the lives of students to develop a personal vision for their own life that changes global communities.  Join Appleseed Expeditions in Tucson Arizona as students stay overnight at the Biosphere 2, take in the stars at Kitt Observatory and learn from University of Arizona engineers about the first Mars Rover that was created in their labs in Tucson.  Begin your quest to be the astronaut of the future by taking in a quest that will never end. (*Does not include airfare. Please contact our office for price including airfare)

Trip Itinerary

Day 1 •“Now departing Biosphere 1 (Earth)”

Upon arrival in Tucson, we go directly to one of the most unique research facilities in the world, Biosphere 2.  This is the amazing Earth-replicating laboratory under glass that is an example of the enclosed system we would use on Mars.

Program includes;

-An Ecosystems Services tour of Biosphere 2 including a look at daily life for the Biospherians. An ecosystem service is any positive benefit that nature provides, small or large, direct or indirect, such as water purification, photosynthetic oxygen production, nutrient decomposition and cycling, and pollination. We will use the unique engineering and novel design of Biosphere 2 to gain an appreciation of what nature and ecosystems provide. The diverse biomes under glass are only possible because of the amazing technology supporting them. Students see first-hand the challenges and opportunities of replicating what happens in nature.

-a night-time astronomy program including star charting and stargazing with binoculars and telescopes.

-Chemistry Magic – a show all about carbon, explosively exciting!

-Exploring a lunar greenhouse (like in the movie The Martian)

-Robotics and the Biosphere 2 ocean


Day 2 • STEM Exploration Day (Climate and Biology)

This full day of STEM activities at Biosphere 2.  Here students will learn how water, climate and biology would have to be maintained on Mars. Your group will experience a unique ‘Behind The Scenes’ tour of Biosphere 2 led by an experienced B2 educator. Students will learn about the special nature of each of the six amazing wilderness biomes inside the building, and how this closed system may work on other planets such as Mars.

Modules available;

-Appreciating Biodiversity

-Bottom of the Food Chain: Plankton

-Climate Change

-Marine Science Lab


-Planet Water

-Sonoran Desert Discovery


Night in Tucson hotel.

Day 3 • Science of the Desert, and KINDNESS in Tucson

In the morning the group will go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum where they will tour the grounds to learn about the natural history of the area and see living plants and animals from across the Sonoran Desert region.  The Arizona desert is a similar biome to Mars because of the lack of water and provides the perfect backdrop to study the Martian landscape.

Curriculum-tailored programs include:

– Green STEM Classroom Experience that will illustrate how science, technology, engineering and math are integrated in the study of the natural world

– Multi-media theater experience where students will actively discover the adaptations that living things use to survive in the desert.

After lunch at the Desert Museum, the group will go to Ben’s Bells to creatively volunteer by working with clay to create beads that will one day adorn a Ben’s Ben.  By the time one Ben’s Bell is complete, at least 10 people have been involved in its creation. The mission of Ben’s Bells is to inspire, educate, and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness. Ben’s Bells are beautiful, ceramic wind chimes, handmade by the community that are hung randomly throughout the community, in public spaces, for people to find and take home as a reminder to practice intentional kindness.

On the way to dinner at El Charro, a historic Mexican restaurant operated by the same family since 1922, the group will stop at the Presidio Museum to participate in a STEM activities related to the history of Tucson in the 1700s.  Possible activities include:

-The Spanish discovery of native healing and plant-based medicine

-The Musket: the weapon that changed the course of history

-Butter churns and “hornos”-colonial cooking technology

-Milling in New Spain. See an early millstone that was rotated by people.

-Money Math- the Spanish “pieces of eight”

-How did they make that red dye?

Across the street from the Presidio at Old Town Artisans, students can have a chance to shop for unique in one of the oldest buildings in Tucson.

Night in Tucson.

Day 4 • Mirror Lab / Planetary Sciences / Mars Odyssey

Be like Christopher Columbus of the stars as you learn about planets, telescopes and exploration of the universe.

Spend the remainder of this day at the University of Arizona where possibilities include:

Mirror Lab– A unique facility located under the college’s football stadium and the only lab in the world that produces lenses for giant telescopes. You will see active projects that in the next 10 years will make incredible discoveries you will one day see in the news. The interactive tour focuses on the science and engineering of telescopes.

Lunar and Planetary Sciences Lab- See images from Mars and learn more about University of Arizona projects like Mars Odyssey, OSIRIS-REx, and HiRISE.

Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium- Participate in a program on marine science, Earth science, insects, physics, or chemistry. And take a trip to the outer reaches of space in the 3D, full-dome planetarium.

-Campus tour– learn some amazing history about the campus and get a glimpse at university life

Just adjacent to the university is lively Main Gate Square where students can enjoy some shopping and groups can have dinner.

Night in Tucson.

 Day 5 • Sky School at Mt. Lemmon

The first part of the day will be spent on a journey to the peak of the Catalina Mountains (where temperatures will drop 20 to 30 degrees so bring WARM clothes!) Along the way you will go through through five different ecosystems, with your guide from Mt. Lemmon Sky School and opportunities include hiking, dendrochronology coring, and “what is a sky island?”

For the rest of the day, your group will complete Sky School through interactive STEM modules on topics like soil,  insects, and meteorites.

Tonight you can explore the night skies through the giant telescopes of the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center, originally used during the Cold War to watch for bombers and now the home of the Catalina Sky Survey that scans the sky each night looking for asteroids, especially those that could be potentially hazardous to Earth.


Night in Sky School dormitories.

Day 6 • Head Home

Add a day and experience the Air and Space Museum, Wild West Dinner Show or a horseback ride through the Sonoran desert.

• Itinerary subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control including availability with vendors, weather conditions, and flight schedules.


  • Explore the stars at a planetarium
  • Learn about aliens and robots
  • Stay the night at the Biosphere 2
  • Learn about closed systems that sustain life
  • View the stars at Mt. Lemmon
  • See how STEM works for the exploration of our universe


Qualified trip leader – Accompanying each expedition is a diverse team of experts from naturalists to regional specialists who will share their knowledge and insights on the wildlife, landscapes and local culture. Your guide is with the group 24/7 and also staying with you at the same hotel
Daily reflections lead by your tour leader
Overnight stays are in hotels and dormitories
All Meals are included but please note: On arrival day only dinner is provided; on departure day, only breakfast is provided
Tour Journal, T-shirt and Luggage tag
Note: Tour cost does not include airline-imposed baggage fees, or fees for any required passport or visa. Please visit our Fees FAQ page for a full list of items that may not be included in the cost of your tour.