Before Mars – Novo Mundo (Episode I) – National Geographic (2016)

A defining feature of Human nature is exploration. We are hard wired with curiosity. It instinctively drives us to wonder what is behind the next hill. On planetary scale the Moon and the Mars are the nearest objects of interest in this endeavor. In this half-dramatized docu-feature film the National Geographic is aiming to inspire explorers that will colonize Mars. The mini-series takes place both in the future and in the present day. Episodes include interviews with influential people in modern science and innovation that will enable missions to Mars.

The geological evolution of the Earth and Mars have started from very similar origins but yet the two planets have followed quite different trajectories. The geology of our planet has shaped the evolution of life (and vice versa). Understanding the Mars will also help understand our own planet.

Mars most certainly is a fascinating planet with many mind-blowing (but real) geological formations that could satisfy imagination of any epic high-fantasy novel aficionado. These include enormous volcanoes such as Olympus Mons the largest volcano in our solar system (twice high as Mount Everest and size of state of Colorado), deep canyons such as Valles Marineris system (three times as deep as and hundred times as wide as the Grand Canyon) forming a massive fracture on the crust of the planet and craters formed by mega impacts.

Inevitably reaching Mars requires a lengthy space travel. In order to explore psychological aspects of long-duration space travel NASA has been carrying out a series of experiments called Hi-SEAS. The acronym stands for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation simulating a journey to MARS. Antarctic field stations and the International Space Station have been ideal facilities. However, the psychological aspects of Human behavior always requires increased sample sizes with multiple trials.

Energy flows, nutrients cycle. This is how we can define working principles of an ecosystem in a nutshell. Our planet has a very complex land-air-water interaction and we are only beginning to understand the behavior of these systems by simplifying them in enclosed systems such as Landscape Evolution Laboratory (LEO). Eventually the aim is to establish a self-sustaining
life support system for inter-planetary colonization.

 

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