National Geographic launches a new project called “Mars”. It represents Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s series about the first humans on the Red Planet in 2033. As the content leader in science and exploration, Nat Geo uses the series to transform general human mindset about space journeys and get closer to this reality.


A storytelling approach

"Mars" Video Series By National GeographicThe series aim to teach viewers about the science needed to land on Mars. Unlike the singular storytelling approach, Mars will involve its largest cross-platform effort to educate viewers. It includes a National Geographic magazine cover story; virtual reality experience; Royal Observatory Greenwich exhibit in London; global screenings in Europe and Mexico; children’s media and related educational materials; ongoing coverage on the Nat Geo website and social media and a now-streaming digital series. Its novel format gives people a drama with documentary footage and real-life interviews with space pioneers Elon Musk and Neil de Grasse Tyson, astronaut Scott Kelly and NASA Planetary Science Division director James Green. The interviews explain the challenges they face and the reasons for undertaking such a journey.


About the crew: the scientists, the actors and the world organizations

"Mars" Video Series By National Geographic

The program must be accurate, so it involves a circle of science advisors: astrophysicist Jedidah Isler, writer Stephen Petranek, JPL’s Curiosity mission manager Jennifer Trosper and Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut in space. There were also several actors, who went through space boot camp and exams. “We had to go to class every day, and I was like, whoa, I’m an actor! Just give me the lines and I’ll say it,” says Sammi Rotibi, who plays roboticist Robert Foucault. “And then we had to take a test at the end of the week. That was no joke”. “The writers, producers, and staff really cared about getting it right, and so it was much more than being the science guy off in the corner”, says Robert Braun, consulting scientist. “It was very interactive, and that helped a lot to make it real”. Moreover, there are no space agencies in the world that could handle the cost of going to Mars, so the creators had to put together NASA , Roscosmos, JAXA and other nations to physically do that.


The technologies used

A lot of the engineering today will power that mission in 2033. There was designed a high-tech-looking technology. But the creators can’t say surely, if it will be a leap in 2033. Though, it is not that important. “The technology today that’s sending astronauts to space, particularly in the Russian space program, is still leveraging Soyuz capsule technology that’s been around since the ’60s”, says Wilkes.

"Mars" Video Series By National Geographic


Science + entertainment: where does it lead us?

“There is a cycle between the entertainment and space industries. The more scientifically accurate space-related content that gets made, the more public interest there is in the space program, the more funding it gets, the more things they accomplish, then the more public interest there is in entertainment”, notes The Martian author Andy Weir.

And it just goes around like that and is actually part of the process that will get us to Mars in real life

"Mars" Video Series By National Geographic

"Mars" Video Series By National Geographic

Why do we need to get there?

Humankind isn’t safe on Earth. If there is a catastrophe, our species could be wiped out, so we need to be prepared for that moment. “Mars could be terraformed given enough time and money,” says Weir. “The runaway greenhouse affect that we’re desperately trying to avoid here, we could deliberately provoke on Mars. That could be done in as few as several decades”.

Mars is just a part of a longer journey. “Mars is just a stepping-stone, a practice area”, says Petranek, “We have to learn how to get out of this solar system and find another Earth-like planet in another solar system, and that could be light years away. That is a very awesome piece of imagination and technology that we don’t possess now. And the only way we’re going to get there is to begin the process”.

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