The National Geographic channel programming has been a mix of documentary and non-script productions. For the limited series “Mars,” that will air on six consecutive Mondays, the format is a hybrid of scripted and non-scripted.
Part of the production is a dramatized story of a handful of Earth astronauts in 2033 who go on the first manned mission to colonize Mars. This story is mixed with current day interviews with top scientists explaining how each hurdle would be faced and defeated.
The experts are from NASA, JPL and the European Space Agency. It also includes a look at SpaceX, the commercial enterprise that manufactures and launches rockets.
This blend of drama and real interviews isn’t considered fiction nor science fiction. Those behind the project see it as science fact as even the dramatized evens in 2033 all fall within the strict guidelines of what a real mission to Mars would be like.
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Here are what a few of those involved with the project had to say about “Mars.”
Director Everardo Gout on the design of the series: “It’s a dramatized series that flashbacks to the present. Because remember that the first mission to Mars is probably going to be around year 2033, which to me is incredibly soon. So it’s very important that all the ideas work under one streamline and that one hand feeds the other in terms of the knowledge and in terms of the emotional.”
Dr. Robert Braun, former NASA chief technologist, on sticking to strict science fact: “I work on a lot of real missions, robotic missions to Mars. And one of the best things about this series was getting a chance to work with writers, producers, staff that they really cared about getting it right, and so it was much more than I was the science guy off in the corner. It was very interactive, and that helped a lot, I think, to make it real.”
Jennifer Trosper, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on potential of a real Mars landing: It definitely excites me. My very first landing on Mars that was successful was Mars Pathfinder in the late ’90s. I think it’s one thing to land a rover and live kind of vicariously through it, which is what I do, and then it’s another thing to be standing on Mars, at the Grand Canyon on Mars, which is as big as the United States and taking that in yourself.
Andy Weir, author of “The Martian,” on his role as an author in pushing for space travel: “I believe that there is a virtuous cycle in play between the entertainment industry and the space industry. The more space related, 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. And it just goes around like that. So I think this is a great cycle and is actually part of the process that will get us to Mars in real life.”
Stephen Petranek, author of “How We’ll Live on Mars,” on why being able to go to Mars is so important: “We all have to face a certain reality here. Eventually our sun begins to die and it consumes the Earth. Human beings will go extinct if we do not become a multiplanet and spacefaring society. And frankly, Mars isn’t the answer. Mars is just a stepping stone. It’s a practice area. We have to learn how to actually get out of this solar system and find another Earth like planet in another solar system, and that could be light years away.
- 8 p.m. Monday, National Geographic