NatGeo’s “MARS” miniseries ended Monday night with its last episode. It didn’t suck. I recommend it. Friday NatGeo will be playing all episodes and adding at the end a program showing how they produced and filmed the series locations to look like the surface of Mars. So Friday will be a great time to binge-watch the whole miniseries.
My Grandson Mickey and I will be watching again. He’s a bit bummed it’s over. We really enjoy sharing stuff like this. The kid blows me away with his retention of the information, and then his ability to think outside the box, especially when the unanticipated throws a wrench into the works, if you will. I thrive on our one-on-one conversations on things like this. Mickey is also very engineering and architecturally inclined … He has used his Lego blocks to make the current skyscrapers of NYC (from a designed Lego kit) and free-handed the WTC Twin Towers (something he’s obsessed with). I’m about to challenge him to build a small scale idea for a Mars colony. Anyway, the Mars mission takes place in the mid 2030s. Eleven-year-old Mick keeps reminding me how old he will be then and I can just see his mind grinding and churning the possibilities in his future. It might sound weird but I can see my Earthly immortality in his face and eyes. I love when something interests him so sharply and deeply.
If you don’t watch Friday’s marathon repeat of the miniseries on NatGeo, DVR it, or I’m sure you can also find the episodes on your TV server’s On Demand option and/or online at NatGeo’s website. Google it. Binge-watch it. You will not be disappointed. Each episode flashes back and forth between real-time 2016 reality documentary and 2033-37 science fiction…
As I have expressed before, outside of moon and Mars missions and colonization where the possibility and probability of returning to Earth and family/friends/peers is evident, long stasis missions to far reaches will be made by human crews that will have to detach from human bonds left behind on Earth that will never be seen again. My endless childhood wonder and sci-fi “ALIEN and Star Wars” franchise ideals about such Herculean deep space missions came crashing down quite a bit after I had watched “Interstellar” several times and maturely contemplated the realities of such a human mission. Hell, just missioning within our own solar system with Mars and various possible missions to other planets’ moons (the planets themselves physical impossibilities for humans) and large asteroids in the asteroid belt will be a massive challenge on all levels.
We need building materials, especially for the manned space vehicles, beyond our current durability that will be strong and dependable against the threat of radiation and molecular deterioration from lack of gravity and the stress of the massive energy used to power the vehicle. We will need a stasis system to utilize in order to buffer the stress and strain on the human psyche with much needed down times during flight, and also reserving life sustaining food, water, air, etc. supplies/systems. We need artificial gravity ability. Some of these missions will be failed and never make it to their destination(s), let alone return to Earth (if that was even a goal in the planning), and crews will have to be stridently screened mentally and physically to be certain only the most fit crew members go.
But nothing really moves from our orbit with an aim for targets beyond if we do not build a functioning jumping-off colony on our own moon with it’s much lower gravity and lack of atmosphere, and possibly a farther reaching space gateway station/port between the moon and Mars, even if it is manned only by robots in order to maintenance and resupply. With the moon and a space port there will be a higher chance of increased thrust because of the lack of gravity, unlike planning long mission launches from Earth.
Also, prior to any manned mission to Mars, or even to colonize our moon, several unmanned missions to seed the target area and surrounding region of life sustaining supplies and building materials and solar power systems will have to be launched years ahead. If you watch “Mars” you will understand how very important that is. And if you watched “The Martian” you will also understand the demands of the unforeseen events. We cannot send humans to an empty nest, so to speak, without first feathering it in order to give them a fighting chance. No matter how great our technology becomes that would simply just be the height of suicidal human arrogance. And power cells/batteries etc. must be made to be able to be interchangeable with any/all systems in order to keep down the need for “Hail Mary” MacGyverisms. And continued unmanned supply ships will need to be scheduled for the region even after man has landed. It’s just the reality. No matter how great the Martian greenhouse is they are still going to need food, medicine, replacement parts/tools and other essential supplies. And robots, robots, robots! We will need them to do the bulwark heavy lifting and bulk of outdoor maintenance for any colony on the moon and Mars, especially preparing for the humans to arrive. The moon and Mars colonies will be a major multi-leveled commerce operation between governments, a unified government federation (NOT the UN!), and commercial entities.
And if we have been as successful as possible the decision to terraform the surface of Mars with a suitable atmosphere and climate, and transplant massive amounts of vegetation and wildlife to makeshift oasis regions will undoubtedly be the foremost goal of a Martian colony. Why settle a planet that will never allow humans to leave their sheltered habitats and walk the surface free of cumbersome protective suits and air tanks? Technology will need to design and implement some sort of shield to orbit Mars as a makeshift Van Allen radiation belt to reduce the human exposure to unchecked radiation. For that matter, any initial Mars missions will demand part of the crew remain above planet, much as our Apollo moon missions did, in a primary part of the mission’s spacecraft (as an orbiting space station) as a reusable shuttle-like part travels to the surface … and there should be more than one of these shuttles. There would be schedules for swapping out ground and sky crew members, and some colonists would be serving temporary deployments to the Mars colony from Earth.
All this will not take a few generations time, but many generations. It will even entail mining the moon, asteroids and perhaps even Mars for needed raw building materials and possible energy sources … and water. It will primarily require an entirely new and evolved human civilization.
There is so much foundational elements that we have yet to seriously design and achieve. That obviously takes intelligence, talent, leadership and a Hell of a lot of money. But none of this can hopefully be achieved if politics gets in the way. We must be willing to set aside petty jockeying for attention and recognition. It must be a, yes, collective effort for everyone involved, and all must realize the goal is bigger than any one person … or it will fail horribly.
Well, just my amateur thoughts on this subject, anyway.
It always amazes and astounds me that the same mentality that does not consider a human embryo and/or fetus or fully formed baby in the womb, or soon out of it, is not considered “life” also prizes the idea of discovering microscopic or lower and much smaller species/forms on Mars or any other off-Earth celestial location as “life”. We cannot, and probably will not, successfully endeavor to search for whatever form of alien life outside our own magnificent and yes miraculous planet until we acknowledge and understand just how rare and wonderful our human life and its tenacious ability not to have extinguished itself for countless millennia since creation through its evolutions and our continuing primal murderous and warring ways. I know it’s not “Eden” down here under the stratospheric sphere. but given the scope of vast desolation surrounding our beautiful planet we appear to be “Eden” among the stars. We must value humanity even at the smallest and possibly weakest forms before we can rightfully appreciate and fully value even the smallest and simplest life form anywhere else off planet Earth.
Just my beliefs and feelings in this conversation of space travel, colonizing other planets like Mars with our species and searching for “life” out there.
Okay. Some heavy stuff but I’m avoiding gift wrapping here.
In the NatGeo miniseries “Mars” the first Earth mission crew discovered and used a lava tube to build the subterranean mini-colony…
Glenn Reynolds @ Instapundit (WSJ pay-side embedded link):
MORE GOODNESS FROM PETER THIEL: Thiel, Others Push for Trump NASA Team Expansion: Expected appointments of outspoken commercial-space advocates to NASA transition team reflect venture capitalist’s influence.
Venture capitalist Peter Thiel and others have successfully pushed for advocates of commercial space ventures to join President-elect Donald Trump’s NASA transition team, a result of an internal tug of war over policy directions and future decision makers at the agency.
Transition leaders are poised to tap Alan Stern, chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, a leading trade group, and Alan Lindenmoyer, a former head of NASA’s commercial space taxi program, to serve on the agency’s so-called landing team, according to people familiar with the matter.
Consultant Charles Miller, another ex-NASA official who championed commercial space programs over the years, also is slated to be appointed to the same panel, they said.
I’m happy to see this treated as a priority. It was beginning to look like too many business-as-usual types at NASA, and this is a welcome correction. Also, see this column of mine from last month.
A highly anticipated theatrical holiday release of a new science fiction movie is this week. It deals with deep space travel and colonialization…