Saturday, November 12, 2016

National Geographic embarks on a spectacular journey to MARS in an audacious new 6-part space adventure drama starting Sunday at 8:05pm.

Viewers who loved Matt Damon in the film The Martian will enjoy the new 6-part series with documentary elements, MARS, starting this Sunday at 20:05pm on National Geographic (DStv 181), a fictional drama about mankind’s first manned mission to the red planet in 2033.

The harrowing first attempt to colonise Mars is not a documentary series but a fictional drama just like The Martian, interspliced with time jumps to 2016 as real scientists and innovators discuss the various challenges of reaching and possibly establishing a manned scientific base on Mars.

Executive produced by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment, MARS as a scripted feature-quality drama on National Geographic shows the dramatic setbacks and successes when a crew embarks on their Mars mission and immediately run into problems.

Filmed earlier this year in Budapest and Morocco, the Daedalus spacecraft encounters problems before it even reaches space.

The crew – with mission commander Ben Sawyer (Ben Cotton), a Korean American mission pilot, a Spanish hydrologist and geochemist, a French doctor and biochemist, a Nigerian mechanical engineer and roboticist, A British nuclear physicist and a world-renowned experimental botanist – very quickly run into scary problems.

Will they find traces of life on Mars? Will they make surprising discoveries? And most of all: Will all or even just some of them be able to survive?

Ron Howard says the idea with MARS for National Geographic is "to bring the quest to go to Mars to life in a really dramatic and cinematic way".

The scripted story of MARS is based on real-world science, with the writers and production designers who worked with an extensive team of experts and NASA to get not just the science as accurate as possible but also the visual look of things like the Daedalus spaceship design, the spacesuits and the Olympus Town habitat settlement.

MARS has an unprecedented collection of interviews with authors as well as NASA experts and other scientists working to find solutions to the myriad challenges facing a possible Mars mission, including the South African innovator Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. 

'It's what we do as humans, we explore things'
"The time we are living in now is unique and we should be privileged to live now," says dr Adriana Marais.

The South African scientist is one of Africa's astronaut candidates – and one of 100 left globally – selected to possibly become one of the people to go on a real Mars mission as part of the Mars One project.

"Only 580 people or so have ever been to space. In the next decade or two – and we're lucky enough to watch this happening – we are going to explore space further than ever before," said Adriana Marais.

"Since the beginning of time humans have been moving around, finding new places to live, and staying there. My ancestors came to South Africa in 1688. I still live in Cape Town."

"I believe in a thousand years’ time there will be humans on Mars, talking about that perilous journey that their ancestors made from Earth, on that rickety rocket, that wasn't guaranteed to arrive at all, in the early 21st century," said Adriana Marais.

"Never underestimate the power of getting out of your comfort zone. It's always because you made a leap. You went out into the unknown. You went out on a limb."

"You went out with those people you didn’t know. You made new friends. You went to that place you’ve never been to before. You learnt about that place and it changed you."

"And it's what we do as humans. We explore the things we don’t understand yet and we try to solve problems," said Adriana Marais.

"Earth is unique. A lot of planets are barren; lifeless. Earth is not. We should do everything we can to protect Earth. And maybe leaving Earth will be the only way we will realise this."