MarsNews.com
February 15th, 2019

Archaeology On Mars – From The Fantastical To The Real

Rover and Pyramids on Mars GETTY

NASA’s Martian rover Opportunity breathed its last digital gasp this week. What was a busy scurrying robot picking over and investigating the Martian landscape is now a slowly decaying pile of metal and circuitry. That is to say, Opportunity has entered my world, the world of abandoned things that is archaeology.

Humans have been dreaming about Martian archaeology for well over a century now. When the Italian Astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli described seeing canali on the surface of the red planet in 1877, many in the English-speaking world began to speculate that Schiaparelli was referring to artificially constructed canals. Percival Lowell became the largest champion of this interpretation. In his 1895 book “Mars,” Lowell claimed that the canals of Mars had been built by a desperate alien race seeking to salvage what water they could from the planet’s melting ice caps.

Yet all along this journey, the Martian landscape has become populated by actual human-made objects. Fourteen separate missions from four different space agencies have littered the surface of the Mars with not only landers and rovers, but heat shields, parachutes, and an untold number of broken bits. As an archaeologist, I love broken bits.

The things that people make and leave behind tell a different story then written history. A physical examination of landing sites on Mars would reveal critical details about why some landers arrived safely while others crashed to never be heard from again. Even the crashed landers tell a story of human triumph and ingenuity. One day, an astronaut will walk up to the original Viking 1 lander and marvel at the accomplishments of their ancestors. The material heritage we are currently scattering across the Martian surface will stand for centuries to come as a symbol of what we as human beings can do.

January 30th, 2019

Terra Mars – Artificial Neural Network’s (ANN) topography of Mars in the visual style of Earth

Rendering of the western hemisphere of Terra Mars generation 65
2019. Centered at the enormous canyon system Valles Marineris, also featuring some or Mars’ tallest mountains, including Olympus Mons—the tallest mountain in the solar system—on the west coast.

Created by SHI Weili, For this project, Terra Mars is a speculative visualisation by an ANN (artificial neural network) to generate images that resemble satellite imagery of Earth modelled on topographical data of Mars. Terra Mars suggests a new approach to creative applications of artificial intelligence—using its capability of remapping to broaden the domain of artistic imagination.

SHI welcomes different interpretations of Terra Mars. It can be enjoyed simply as a playful remix of the two planets, or one can relate this imaginary version to the astronomical facts. Maybe one can even consider this as a preview of a possible outcome of human’s terraforming efforts, or you just appreciate the sheer beauty of a planet that resembles our own.

December 17th, 2018

Acting Took Roxy Sternberg To ‘Mars’ Now She’s Wants To Explore New Terrain

Photo by Dusan Martincek for National Geographic

Roxy Sternberg is no stranger to American television.

The West London native has had significant roles on the NBC miniseries Emerald City as well as Into the Badlands on AMC and Netflix’s Chewing Gum. But her ensemble part on the National Geographic science-fiction drama Mars could be just the thing to help make her a household name.

Sternberg plays Jen Carson, an operations foreman for the Lukrum mining colony. Throughout the six-episode series, which is now in its second season, Jen and her colleagues represent the often-maligned business side of scientific exploration. The show is set in 2042, but the themes are rather current. Making matters more complicated, Jen is dating molecular biologist Levi Fiehler (Cameron Pate), creating a Romeo and Juliet kind of vibe for the two factions.

“Anything can happen,” the 29-year-old actress told ESSENCE of the conflicts on Mars. “But ultimately, we all have our best interests at heart and may the best man win. There’s some intimacy that happens. And we’re entering Mars and they’ve been there seven years. We’re humans and at the end of the day, we have certain needs.”

November 15th, 2018

Mars Researcher Takes A Journey To The Red Planet — Through Her Family Tree

Dr. Tanya Harrison holds up a copy of Ira Sweet Bunker’s short story.
Annika Cline/KJZZ

You can refer to Tanya Harrison as “Dr. Harrison,” but there’s another title she likes, too.

“I’m what I like to call a professional Martian,” she said.

She’s a geologist who explores Mars through the eyes of NASA’s Opportunity rover, which recently celebrated its 5,000th Martian day out there on the planet’s dusty surface. Harrison is also director of research for the NewSpace Initiative at ASU.

“I get to spend a lot of my time looking at images from Mars, which I think is really exciting, especially if you’re doing something with the rovers were you might be one of the first people in history to ever see that piece of Mars from the rover,” she said.

“I’d always been interested in space. I grew up watching a lot of Star Trek with my parents. But in 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder mission landed, NASA released a little animation of photos of the Sojourner rover driving off the lander onto the surface of Mars,” Harrison recalled. “And I remember seeing that and thinking, we’re driving a robot on another planet tens of millions of miles away. And my brain just couldn’t comprehend how awesome that was. And so that kind of shifted my focus from just kind of general space to — I really want to work on Mars.”

So she did. Not literally, but as close as anyone can get right now. Every image she sees from the rover unravels another little mystery about the red planet.

Then last year, her mom made a discovery.

“So my mother is really into genealogy,” Harrison said. “And she told me at one point recently that she had come across my great great uncle, whose name is Ira Sweet Bunker. And she found out from his obituary, of all things, that he had written a story called: ‘A Thousand Years Hence; Or, Startling Events In The Year 3000.’”

Subtitle: “A Trip To Mars, Incidents By The Way.”

November 12th, 2018

Early Days On Mars: A Primer For The Issues First Colonists Would Face

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Imagining life in space has been part of our collective fictions for some time. Many of us grew up watching some iteration of Star Trek with our parents or we have a strong opinion on the best Doctor Who or we still say that Firefly was robbed of its rightful hundreds of seasons. As a species, we’re drawn to shows, books, and movies about discovery — humans pushing the boundaries of what we know and where we’ve been. It’s in our very nature to explore.

“For 95% of our existence, we’ve been nomadic,” Stephen Petranek, author of the book How We’ll Live on Mars, says. “Humans are two million-years-old. Up until just 20,000 years ago, we spent our time moving over the horizon to the next area where there was more game, more fruits, and more things that we could eat. Then, we would move beyond that.”

It makes sense then that, now that we’ve explored the corners of our own planet so thoroughly, we would feel the longing to move again. To go beyond the horizon we can see. And Mars is the next great frontier — wild and untamed.

Mars became Stephen Petranek’s scientific obsession when he interviewed Elon Musk for a TED project. Talking to the Tesla visionary and hearing his plans blew Petranek’s mind. Through their conversations, the writer realized that going to Mars wasn’t just possible in the future, the current technology makes it possible now. Bigger still, he felt certain that a mass pilgrimage to the famed “red planet” could save our species from extinction.

No wonder Petranek’s book, How We’ll Live On Mars, grabs people’s imaginations so strongly. This isn’t purely fiction but it does inspire the imagination. Enough so that it became the inspiration for the NatGeo show, MARS — a hybrid of real scientific interviews and scripted drama about the first Martian colony. Recently, we talked to Stephen Petranek in advance of the second season of MARS (out November 12th 9/8c) and he addressed problems on Earth that could still plague us on another planet.

October 2nd, 2018

National Geographic Presents Season Two of MARS

Nat Geo TV

The prospect of Mars has never been more palpable. The idea once was considered Science fiction, but in the blink of an eye, we’ll be there. Season 2 of National Geographic’s acclaimed series MARS – dubbed impressive, inspiring and scientifically honest by critics – returns Monday, November 12, at 9/8c, with a six-episode arc continuing with last season’s unique hybrid format: alternating scripted and documentary sequences to predict what life will be like on the Red Planet forecasted by what’s happening today on Earth. MARS has a special simulcast premiere on Nat Geo Mundo.

National Geographic partners again with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Michael Rosenberg and Justin Wilkes of Imagine Entertainment, as well as executive producers Jon Kamen and Tommy Turtle of RadicalMedia to envision what might happen when Earthlings become the planet’s first Martians.

This season on MARS, the story delves into the boundaries between Science and industry on an isolated, unforgiving frontier. Throughout history, there’s been a constant tug of war between human motivations and interests with profitability on one end of the spectrum and exploration on the other. When becoming interplanetary, can humans break the chain, or are they doomed to repeat the same mistakes in this new world?

August 10th, 2018

California Central Coast photographer captures Mars reflecting off the Pacific Ocean

“MarsFlectionGlow”
George Krieger

A Central Coast photographer captured a photo along Highway 1 that is out of this world.

George Krieger’s photo, titled “Mars Flection Glow,” shows the planet Mars reflecting off the Earth’s Pacific Ocean.

Krieger said his nighttime Tuesday drive along Highway 1 in Big Sur was shrouded in coastal fog. But farther south, the clouds cleared, revealing a dazzling starry night sky.

“After driving through heavy fog much of the way down past Big Sur, I finally got far enough south to capture the reflection of Mars off the ocean,” Krieger said.

“There are few objects bright enough to reflect light off the ocean from space. Mars is usually not one of them, but right now the nearby planet is is both closest to earth, and directly opposing the earth in relation to the Sun. This alignment makes the little Red Planet one of the brightest objects in the night sky,” Krieger said.

July 16th, 2018

The First: Hulu’s Sean Penn Mars Drama Delivers First-Look Images

“Sean Penn leads an ensemble cast in this near-future drama about a crew of astronauts attempting to become the first humans on Mars. Under the direction of visionary aerospace magnate Laz Ingram (Natascha McElhone), the crew contends with peril and personal sacrifice as they undertake the greatest pioneering feat in human history.”

Hulu delivers a batch of first-look images and a premiere date for its new drama The First, from creator Beau Willimon, starring Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone. The upcoming series tells the story of humankind’s first manned expedition to Mars, taking a more grounded approach to the narrative by focusing on the personal and professional aspects of such a mission, not to mention the huge technical challenges and life-threatening risks that come along with such a monumental endeavor. In essence, the series sounds a bit like The Right Stuff, but centered on humankind’s first manned trip to another planet.

May 31st, 2018

Singer Tara Macri Drops ‘Meet Me on Mars’

Esther Fuentes Art Dept

“The song is a love story with the idea that Mars needs to be a place where everyone can go and be anything you want with anyone you want,” she shared. “It’s a fresh start with no one there to judge you…it’s a place where you can be your best self.”

Tara adds about the video, “Having performed and danced my whole life on and off Broadway, I wanted to incorporate a dance element with the song and performance. I’m really proud of the dance video and how it turned out…so hey Elon Musk of SpaceX, when you plan the first dance party on Mars, let make sure this track starts the playlist!”

January 3rd, 2018

American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year wants to be an astronaut when she grows up, and same

Dolls can be an inspirational part of girls’ and boys’ lives. The latest doll that has us shooting for the stars is Luciana Vega, American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year. Luciana is an 11-year-old aspiring astronaut who wants to go to space! Specifically, she’d like to be the first person on Mars. No doubt about it, we’d board that spaceship too.

“For us, it’s all about helping girls develop their strength of character — something that is more important in our world than ever,” American Girl spokesperson Julie Parks told Refinery29. “Luciana shows girls what it means to be a girl of strong character — where creative thinking, collaboration, and STEM literacy provide opportunities for meaningful growth and development. Luciana empowers girls to push boundaries, defy stereotypes, and embrace risks that will teach them about failure and success as they chart their own course in life.”

If that doesn’t sound like a doll with amazing #careergoals, we don’t know what does. Luciana is legit when it comes to being an astronaut: Her accessories are modeled after IRL ones. American Girl worked with an advisory board, and part of that board included a former NASA chief scientist, as well as a former astronaut.