MarsNews.com
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.”

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.