Former astronaut Mae Jemison over the moon for ‘Mars’
The second season of the National Geographic series “Mars,” set to debut Monday, will continue to blend fictional storytelling with fact to present a look at what the efforts to establish a colony on the red planet would look like in the year 2042. The six episodes will bounce between events on Mars and interviews with some of today’s top names in science and space exploration.
The show’s creators are taking every precaution to make sure the fictionalized part of the story is based in fact, including by having former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison – the first African-american woman to travel in space – as one of the scientific advisers. The 62-year-old knows her way around the solar system, as the physician, engineer and social scientist served six years as a NASA astronaut. During her time aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour STS-47 Spacelab Japan Mission in September 1992, she performed experiments in material science, life sciences and human adaptation to weightlessness.
Jemison has had a passion for space since she was growing up in Chicago. She made it a point not to miss any of the televised Mercury, Gemini or Apollo space mission launches. Her passion was compounded when she saw “Star Trek.”
“One of the things that used to irritate me was that all the astronauts were white males,” Jemison says. “I kept thinking that aliens were going to think that was the only kind of people we are. But ‘Star Trek’ had this very diverse cast.
“And, it was a show where science was in the center. What is interesting about ‘Mars’ is that science is in the center. It’s one of the characters.”
The events unfold in 2042 when the International Mars Science Foundation (IMSF) astronauts have developed a fullfledged colony.
“I feel like we have been putzing around with this too long and I should have been on Mars when I was an astronaut,” Jemison says. “When I was a little girl growing up, there was every expectation that we were going to continue on and we would be able to do more things. What I look at is that we have not involved the public enough.”
National Geographic partnered with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Michael Rosenberg of Imagine Entertainment to create the series. This season delves into the boundaries between science and industry on an isolated, unforgiving frontier. It also looks at what happens when a deal must be made with the private sector to get enough funding to continue the work.
Jeff Hephner portrays Commander Kurt Hurrelle, the commander for the Lukrum crew.