Though NASA computes the logistics to getting people to Mars, the rest of us have additional inquiries on our minds: like just how much it would cost to create a page towards the Red World? Okay, so using snail mail to speak with Mars’s very first residents is not precisely the most efficient method of keeping in touch, but it does offer people some healthy viewpoint on just how faraway it is.
The question was presented by way of a five-year-old British son, Oliver Giddings, towards the Royal Mail – the official postal service of the United Kingdom. Due to Oliver’s eagerness to get an answer, the Royal Mail team consulted with experts at NASA to assess the distance the letter would have to travel, and the amount of fuel required to reach Mars. They also had to figure out the price of the stamps needed to send a 100-gram letter to one of NASA’s bases, which will eventually be transportated to a site on Mars.
The official answer: £11,602 and 25 pence – so about US$17,427. That’s a hefty sum, but it’s not completely out of this world. NASA says it cost around US$700 million to send the Curiosity rover to Mars, and considering the letter will be travelling at least 56 million km (depending where Earth and Mars are in their orbits at the time), £11k begins to look like pretty good value. You might have missed the last post for this Christmas, however.
The team reached a conclusion about the price, based on the information NASA provided and Royal Mail’s current pricing. [Spaceship] storage is at a premium… Fuel is very expensive and affects the cost of sending letters around our planet. At the moment, the cost of sending a letter to the US by a jumbo jet is more than sending it to France, because it’s much further away,” explains Royal Mail senior customer advisor, Andrew Smout to Oliver.
On the basis of the recent pricing of the Royal Mail, the letter would need 18,416 First Class stamps, or 21,486 Second Class stamps attached to it. Or, more realistically, a special Mars stamp of the equivalent value.
He was “so excited” to get a response from the company. Thank you for working out the answer, I enjoyed reading it. It’s very expensive to send a letter to Mars. You would need so many stamps!” says Oliver’s mum.
Now you know!