MarsNews.com
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.

March 24th, 2017

‘Life’ horror movie sparks reality check on procedures for studying Mars samples

Rebecca Ferguson plays Miranda North, a planetary protection officer aboard the International Space Station, in the movie “Life.” (Sony Pictures Digital Productions)

Rebecca Ferguson plays Miranda North, a planetary protection officer aboard the International Space Station, in the movie “Life.” (Sony Pictures Digital Productions)

Spoiler Alert! This article doesn’t reveal any major plot twists, but wait to read it if you’re trying to stay totally in the dark about the plot of the movie “Life.”

Let sleeping Martians lie, particularly if they have a strong grip: That’s one of the lessons you could take away from “Life,” the first monster movie set on the International Space Station.

The movie – which opens today and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds – blends the gory horror of “Alien” with the harrowing suspense of “Gravity.” It’s a tour de force of simulated zero-G acrobatics (done mostly with ropes and wires). And it’s an orbital illustration of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong with having an alien on board does go wrong.

Purists may have questions about just how wrong it goes. Could a minuscule life form brought back from Mars really get that big that quickly? Is it really possible to combine neural, muscular and sensory functions in one cell? And just how easy is it for things to come loose (or get loose) on the space station?

The deepest question may well be, does this nightmare have any chance of happening in real life?

March 16th, 2017

Budweiser Is Exploring How to Brew Beer on Mars

Credit: Budweiser

Credit: Budweiser

As scientists search for life on Mars and plot a way for people to live there in the future, Budweiser is hard at work figuring out how to make life in space a little more fun by developing a beer made just for the Red Planet.

Today at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, Budweiser announced its plans to research and produce a microgravity brew, on a panel moderated by The Martian star, Kate Mara, with retired astronaut Clayton Anderson, who discussed the future of space colonization. Ricardo Marques, vp of Budweiser, and Val Toothman, Anheuser-Busch’s vp of marketing innovation, outlined the experiments and research that will go into the Martian beer.

The biggest challenge of brewing beer a space is the lack of gravity. “When you’re in a zero-gravity environment, a beverage with carbonation is going to be an issue,” Anderson explained. However, Budweiser is researching options to work with the micro-gravity environment that exists on Mars to develop a beer that can be consumed there.

February 24th, 2017

Andy Weir’s Best Seller ‘The Martian’ Gets a Classroom-Friendly Makeover

There are more than 160 swear words in Andy Weir’s sci-fi thriller, “The Martian,” including two memorably deployed F-words in the novel’s first three sentences.

The profanity did not strike Mr. Weir as excessive when he wrote the book nearly a decade ago. After all, the story’s narrator, an astronaut named Mark Watney, is stranded alone on Mars with a dwindling supply of food and a rescue mission that is four years away — circumstances that warrant constant cursing.

But shortly after the book came out, Mr. Weir started hearing from a subset of readers who objected to the obscenities.

“I got a lot of emails from science teachers who said, ‘Man I’d love to use your book as a teaching aid, but there’s so much profanity in it that we can’t really do that,’” said Mr. Weir, 44, who is cheerful, hyper-analytical and casually profane, much like his protagonist. “It’s hard to get that by a school board.”