On a re­al­is­tic mis­sion to Mars

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Pay Television - Mars,

“There is life on Mars, and it is us — ex­ten­sions of our eyes in all di­rec­tions, ex­ten­sions of our mind, ex­ten­sions of our heart and soul have touched Mars to­day,” the great sci­ence fiction writer Ray Brad­bury said, speak­ing at a sym­po­sium at the Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory, Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia, in 1976. “That’s the mes­sage to look for there: We are on Mars. We are the Mar­tians!”

It may have been true then but it’s more so now with Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s stun­ning new se­ries hav­ing pre­miered last week in 170 coun­tries and 45 lan­guages. In­spired by the book How We’ll Live on Mars by Stephen Pe­tranek, the show’s tag line, echo­ing HG Wells, reads: “Mars show­cases the dra­matic set­backs and suc­cesses of the mod­ern sci­en­tific space rev­o­lu­tion, while en­vi­sion­ing hu­mankind’s first har­row­ing at­tempts to colonise the dis­tant planet.”

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­duced by Hol­ly­wood lu­mi­nar­ies Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, and di­rected by Mex­i­can film­maker Ever­ardo Gout, the fic­tional scripted se­ries takes place in 2033. It is the story of Earth’s first crewed mis­sion to Mars in the space­craft Daedalus, car­ry­ing an in­ter­na­tional co­hort of six, and seam­lessly threads through the very real sci­en­tific ef­forts hap­pen­ing now to get them there.

The fu­tur­is­tic drama is made pos­si­ble by the cur­rent tech­nolo­gies an­swer­ing the real en­gi­neer­ing ques­tions be­hind our abid­ing in­ter­est in colonis­ing the Red Planet. Howard calls it a new kind of genre where the doc­u­men­tary as­pects, in­clud­ing beau­ti­fully shot in­ter­views with 21 ex­perts — among them names such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Mar­tian author Andy Weir and SpaceX chief ex­ec­u­tive Elon Musk — to help us “bet­ter un­der­stand the re­al­ity of the show”. Brad­bury would have loved it. Sun­day, 7.30pm, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic.

The ‘space­craft’ Daedalus on the Red Planet in Na­tional Ge­o­graphic’s stun­ning new se­ries

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