On Monday, the National Geographic Channel marked the opening of their new ambitious project “Mars.” This new addition to the channel’s features consists of the story of the first manned trip to the Mars Planet.
Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, both famous persons in the film industry, explained how the show is part documentary and part scripted. The scripted part is mainly science fiction, and it’s based on the year 2033, while the documentary part shows the audience the current advances being made on technologic areas.
Alongside these filmmakers, there will be the expertise brought by Space X CEO, Elon Musk. This company is an American aerospace manufacturer, and its primary objective is to reduce the transportation costs when it comes to space travel. Ultimately, the challenge is to make affordable and possible a visit to the Red Planet.
Reality and fiction
One of the main challenges that this new Nat Geo project has to face is the landing on the Red Planet. As it was said before, the show is part fictional and part documentary, and for this reason, the historical developments on Mars landing are relevant when portraiting it on the show.
Trough the years, three countries have tried to land on Mars, and every one of them has used distinct methods to accomplish the landing. These systems include the use of parachutes and airbags and most recently the incorporation of a sky crane that can lower any rover to a distance in which is safe to deploy itself in the land. In fact, Curiosity, the U.S. rover that is currently exploring Mars territory, used this last system.
However, according to Bobby Braun, a professor of space technology at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), and the science consultant for “Mars,” in present times the largest rovers that are being made for exploring Mars are about the size of an SUV. But what will happen, he wonders when Space organizations need to deploy on Mars any object that weighs much more than actual rovers?
For Braun, the landing systems that are being used are not capable of this kind of challenge. The companies and nations involve on the making of any project on Mars landing have to ensure methods that are 100% safe for humans to use, he told Space.com in an interview in August of this year.
The creators of the show “Mars” realized the difficulties on this particular subject and portrayed a possible situation while combining the real part with the fantasy feature. The audience gets to see a very graphic scene where the crew members of the mission lived through a near-death experience and understand completely how hard it is, in reality, to land safely on Mars.
The first episode and what the series could be about
It’s only when all nations understand the importance of a possible human colonization on Mars that international collaboration between countries will accomplish the objective that they have in common. Alongside the great assistance made by major international companies (like SpaceX for example), it will be possible to succeed what many Space related organizations and associations are planning in the future: human life on Mars. This will happen in the short future according to the information said by the narrator at the beginning of the show, who turns to be the captain of the mission played by actor Ben Cotton (Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome).
National Geographic published an article called “Mars in the popular imagination” that explained how the imagination works when people think in Mars. It says that, for regular people, not scientists, Mars is a blank state in which people had fantasized a mysterious world full of fictional characteristics.
“We’ve used Mars as everything from a symbol in mystical and religious belief, to a setting for stories of adventure and intrigue and a fictional place of origin for characters with superhuman abilities,” says Patrick J. Kiger, the author of the article for National Geographic.
It’s clear now the enormous potential that the hybrid format brings to this new project.
The objective of the series is not only to entertain the audience with the exciting science fiction parts but also to create excitement involving not only the future of Mars-related missions but the present of the current investigations and what they represent for the science world. The main competitive advantage of the show is to have the possibility to sustain the people dreams on science fiction matter while connecting that with the current developing of several space technologies.
In this matter, Ann Druyan, the creative director of the Voyager Mission has said that every day is even more real the possibility of a human trip to the Red Planet.
“There are people on this planet right this moment that are actually planning and working to perfect the machinery that’s necessary to make that possible,” she said.