Friday, December 2, 2016

Mars 1 and 2 on National Geographic: New Kind of Helping Hand Into Space

Just caught the first two episodes of Mars on National Geographic, and wanted to post this review before I see and review more.

First, this series is a great amalgam of documentary - up to and including events in 2016 - and a drama about the first expedition to Mars with humans in 2033.   That's a great idea for a story, and it works very well on screen.

The main of the part of the documentary, so far, is Scott Kelly's year in space mission, which ended successfully in March 2016.  This is counterpoint to the 2033 mission to Mars, in which team leader Ben Sawyer is badly injured right before landing and ... well, I won't tell you how that works out, because that's the main personal drama in the first two episodes.

But the point of this new kind of docudrama is that the personal stories are part of the bigger story, the yearning and necessity of human beings getting off this planet, and successfully settling on another planet - in this case, Mars.  Not a complete migration by any means, but establishing enough of  a continuing existence to insure our survival if and when something catastrophic happens to Earth. As Elon Musk of Space X and other worthy fame says in the first episode, this is the only way to insure our survival - since catastrophes happening to both Earth and Mars at the same time are extraordinarily unlikely.

The cinematography in both 2016 and 2033 is stunning.   We've seen all kinds of fictional accounts of space travel - ranging from The Martian to Star Trek - and all kinds of docudramas, such as Apollo 13. I've loved all of them, both as riveting stories in their own right, and as vehicles to getting our imaginations in better gear to actually get further off this planet and out into space.

We'll need all the help we can get, and its good to see Mars now lending a big, bold, imaginative helping hand.

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