MarsNews.com
March 3rd, 2020

The future of Mars colonization begins with VR and video games

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ/CNET

A pristine white rocket stirs up the dusty terracotta surface of Mars, coming in for a smooth landing. A hatch opens, and two rovers make their way across the rugged orange-red terrain. There are no humans — at least, not yet. But this is one small step — or a short wheel roll — to a new world that could be our future home.

I’m playing Surviving Mars, a 2018 survival strategy game from Tropico developers Haemimont Games and Paradox Interactive. The goal? Build the infrastructure to sustain human life on the red planet.

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“Humanity is in a weird situation right now — my smartphone has more computing power than NASA had when they sent people to the moon, but we’re using that to exchange pictures of cats and argue on Twitter,” said Bisser Dyankov, producer of Surviving Mars.

Video games and virtual reality simulations are bringing the average person closer than ever to experiencing life on Mars. For many, these pop culture tours make the actual missions to colonize the planet proposed both by NASA and private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX feel more achievable.

These games, along with other pop culture representations of Mars, have vastly increased interest in human missions to Mars, said James Burk, IT director of the space advocacy nonprofit the Mars Society. In particular, the 2015 movie adaptation of the novel The Martian was a major turning point in piquing public curiosity in colonizing the planet. And now, SpaceX’s plan to send an unmanned mission to Mars as soon as 2022 “is throwing gasoline on it all,” he added.

“It’s getting easier all the time to tell the story of sending people to Mars because now we have all these tools,” Burk said. “People are more accepting of that reality now.”

September 24th, 2019

Mars or bust: A comic

Jacob Turcotte and Eoin O’Carroll

It has been more than five decades since humans first set foot on another world, and as memories of the Apollo 11 mission recede, the stars beckon mankind to make its next giant leap.

This time, humanity has set its sights on the fourth planet from the sun, Mars. A settlement on the red planet has long been a staple of science fiction. But today, scientists and engineers are working to make these dreams a reality.

Drawn by Jacob Turcotte and written by Eoin O’Carroll, this comic looks at some of the challenges and potential solutions for a crewed Mars mission, from getting the timing of the launch right, to slowing it down when it arrives, to creating the buildings, farms, and other infrastructure that humans need to thrive on the red planet.

August 23rd, 2019

NASA-JPL Names ‘Rolling Stones Rock’ on Mars

This animation illustrates NASA’s InSight lander touching down on Mars, its thrusters setting a rock in motion. A little bigger than a golf ball, the rock was later nicknamed “Rolling Stones Rock” by the InSight team in honor of The Rolling Stones. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For decades, the music of The Rolling Stones has had a global reach here on Earth. Now, the band’s influence extends all the way to Mars. The team behind NASA’s InSight lander has named a Martian rock after the band: ‘Rolling Stones Rock.’

The Rolling Stones – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood – were delighted with the news and commented, “What a wonderful way to celebrate the ‘Stones No Filter’ tour arriving in Pasadena. This is definitely a milestone in our long and eventful history. A huge thank you to everyone at NASA for making it happen.”

A little larger than a golf ball, the rock appeared to have rolled about 3 feet (1 meter) on Nov. 26, 2018, propelled by InSight’s thrusters as the spacecraft touched down on Mars to study the Red Planet’s deep interior. In images taken by InSight the next day, several divots in the orange-red soil can be seen trailing Rolling Stones Rock. It’s the farthest NASA has seen a rock roll while landing a spacecraft on another planet.

August 12th, 2019

Mission Mangal New Trailer and Meet the Characters!

One week ahead of its worldwide launch date, the highly awaited motion picture MISSION MANGAL premiered its new second trailer unveiling all new footage from the film which hits next Thursday, on August 15th. This important true story will unfold on the big screen led by an all-star cast including Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu and Sonakshi Sinha.

Mission Mangal is the incredible, true story of a scientist, Rakesh Dhawan, played by Akshay Kumar and Tara Shinde played by Vidya Balan who lead a motley team of scientists who overcome their personal challenges and failures to serve as the brains behind one of the greatest missions in history: the launch of India’s first satellite to Mars, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence. The film is a tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and inspiring generations to dream big and achieve the impossible.

June 6th, 2019

Beyond Mars: Our Place in Space

Acadiana Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Live-action sci-fi show “Our Place In Space” debuts this week at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. It is an experience that will pique your curiosity with a few laughs along the way in an interactive setting – who knows what, or who you will meet along the way in your journey into space.

50 years into the future, after a successful mission to Mars, these scientists are in a race to solve the missing link that will restore Earth for humanity to thrive for years to come.

“Our Place In Space” is an original play written by Missouri native Alicia Chassion, 34, a Talented Theater teacher for Lafayette Parish who earned her BFA at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, Playwrights Horizons Theatre studio with a concentration in Creating Original Work.

The play has been a collaborative effort between Alicia and actresses/actor Missi B. Shepard, 25, who plays Dr. Kennedy Beckham, Jessica Romero, 25, who plays Dr. Josey Ackerman, and Joey Mills, 21, who plays Dr. Michael Travis.

“I hope that what people think about space exploration will be brought to this performance and transformed,” said Alicia.

“Our Place In Space” is recommended for audiences 10 and up.

May 22nd, 2019

NASA Invites Public to Submit Names to Fly Aboard Next Mars Rover

All Aboard for Mars 2020: Members of the public who want to send their name to Mars on NASA’s next rover mission to the Red Planet (Mars 2020) can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names stenciled on chips to be affixed to the rover.

Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”

The opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA’s journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each “flight,” with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, giving each “flyer” about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flier kilometers).

From now until Sept. 30, 2019, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars here:
https://go.nasa.gov/Mars2020Pass

May 7th, 2019

‘Twilight Zone’: DeWanda Wise on the Greek Tragedy of Her Mission to Mars [spoilers]

DeWanda Wise, “The Twilight Zone”
CBS All Access

Original “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling was so fascinated by the possibility of space and aliens that his very first space-adjacent episode aired two years before the first man even escaped Earth’s atmosphere. Now, Jordan Peele’s revival of the series carries on that storytelling tradition with the episode “Six Degrees of Freedom,” in which five astronauts blast off to colonize Mars.

DeWanda Wise, best known for starring in Spike Lee’s Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It,” is a longtime fan of “Twilight Zone” and had even asked her agents specifically if she would be able to land the show. Her favorite episode is “To Serve Man,” the classic entry in which seemingly benevolent aliens land on Earth, improve the lives of humans, and then are revealed to actually eat the people they were helping.

In the episode, Wise plays flight commander Alexa Brandt of the Bradbury Heavy spacecraft and has created a tight-knit family with her crew (Jonathan Whitesell, Jessica Williams, Lucinda Dryzek, and Jefferson White). But when their launch is interrupted by news of Korean ICBMs hitting various cities in the United States, and America’s subsequent retaliation, the crew must make a last-minute decision to abandon the mission and possibly face perishing in a nuclear war or launch and possibly be mankind’s last chance for survival. They launch.

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.”