Has any other planet in the solar system fascinated mankind as much as Mars? Whether it’s in film, literature or music, the Red Planet has obsessed us for centuries. This week you can get up close and personal with Earth’s mysterious neighbour by watching the brand new six-part series MARS.
Spoiler alert: it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!
Created by Oscar- and Emmy-winning producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, each episode is an immersive fusion of documentary and drama. The factual sections showcase the real-life efforts of top tech organisations – including NASA, SpaceX and Blue Origin – to get people to Mars for the very first time. These captivating segments give viewers an insight into the blood, sweat, tears – and vast sums of cash – that are pumped into making life on Mars a reality… which may happen sooner than you think.
Interweaved with the science stuff is a gripping drama about the first manned voyage to the planet in the year 2033. A crew of six intrepid astronauts is sent to Mars on board the spacecraft Daedalus in the hope of colonising this awesome orb. But, as the absorbing action unfolds, it’s not exactly a smooth mission for our cosmic heroes.
This exciting new show looks all set to provide an out-of-this-world experience, but don’t just take our word for it. Let the stars, scientists, executive producer and director explain why you need to tune in…
It’s from the mind of Ron Howard!
Like a brand name that you can trust, award-winning co-creator Ron Howard (whose credits include Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code) has helped produce something very special. “He’s an amazing collaborator,” says director Everardo Gout. “He was very respectful from the very beginning. He was keen not to interfere but you want to capitalise on his experience and his vision. When he contributed, what he said was amazing and intelligent and beautiful. He gave us a great energy to use.”
You’ll be looking into the future through the present
There’s no doubt that humans will one day set foot on Mars. The question is, could it become a reality sooner than the show’s 2033 prediction? “Elon Musk [founder of SpaceX] told me that we would be on Mars by 2025,” says award-winning journalist Stephen Petranek, one of the scientific consultants on the show. “I asked him if we could shift that by two years and he said “yeah, sure”. I think it’s conceivable that humans could be on Mars in the next 12 years, but it’s more likely to be a 20-year timeframe. If humans aren’t on Mars by 2030, I’ll be shocked.”
It’s a very “now” show
These are glamorous days for science. Whether it’s The Big Bang Theory or The Martian bringing protons and neutrons back into vogue, could science be the new rock ‘n’ roll? “Science has always been rock ‘n’ roll,” says consulting scientist Robert Braun. “If you get down to it, everything is science. Science provides so many people with careers. Early space programs were a magnet for great thinkers.” And this show has the scientific collaborators to give it some real kudos. The Martian author Andy Weir and astrophysicist extraordinaire Neil deGrasse Tyson (above) lent their expertise during production, while Dr Mae C Jemison (the first African-American woman to go into space) helped the cast to get a feel for what it’s like to enter orbit.
The drama is intense
Who doesn’t want to put on a spacesuit and pretend they’re investigating a planet for the first time? It must have been all fun and games for the cast, right? “There wasn’t much oxygen when we were wearing the helmets,” reveals Ben Cotton, who plays mission commander Ben Sojer. “The suits were very tricky to put on and very hot. Once you put everything on it felt like you’d gone for a run. Your breath disappears. But the whole production was an amazing thrill to be a part of.” The dramatic sequences are edge-of-your-seat stuff, as the team put their feet precariously on new terrain. You’ll feel like you’re there with them.
It has a unique format
Can we really call this a docudrama? That’s what it looks like on the surface, but the makers have set their sights on creating something far more ambitious. “I wouldn’t put us in the category of docudrama,” says executive producer Justin Wilkes. “We don’t have a description for it at the moment. The docudrama is a genre that’s been out there for a while. We wanted to challenge ourselves to do something that’s inspiring for people. If anyone knows what genre we can call it, that would be a great help!” Answers on a postcard please…
Mars starts on Sunday 13th November at 9pm on National Geographic (CH 266) and National Geographic HD (CH 268). Also available for 30 days in Catch Up > Channels > National Geographic
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