Search for Life
Mars Rising - Search for Life
Season 1 - Episode 6

Show Description The journey to Mars and the search for life on another planet is the most dangerous and compelling mission in the history of space exploration. Bacteria are the most basic and the hardiest life form. And, either still living or now dead, bacteria are one of the things astronauts will be looking for on the Red Planet.In preparation for the challenges of Mars, scientists are searching for bacteria in the driest and most barren places on Earth. The temperature, valley networks and well-preserved large-impact craters on Devon Island in Canadas Arctic echo those on Mars. And, 90 per cent of the rocks on Devon Island have bacteria growing on their underside.Canadian scientist Darlene Lim, a member of the NASA Haughton Mars Project Team, explains her contention that the most primitive forms of life to be discovered on Mars might be carbonate formations similar to those in British Columbias Pavilion Lake.Chiles Atacama Desert has had little rain in the last 10 million years making it the oldest and driest desert on our planet. Yet the Atacama yields fluorescent minerals and organic matter. Might ultra-violet headlights on a Mars Rover illuminate life forms which are invisible to us in daylight? Geophysicist Pascal Lee theorizes that it might merely be that we are members of the same family spread over two planets. Canadian chemist Alison Skelley is searching for amino acids, one of the building blocks of life, with an ultra-sensitive Mars Organic Analyzer. Bacterial super bugs that once lived on the surface of Mars may have migrated underground, protected from dust and radiation, where only drilling can find them.In addition to drilling for liquid water, the astronauts will search the caves formed by volcanic lava tubes that have been identified on Mars surface. Similar tubes exist in New Mexico where, deep underground, Penelope Boston has discovered white bacterial formations living in near freezing droplets of water, feeding off rock.
Six Minutes of Terror

Show Description The most perilous part of the journey to the Red Planet is the six minutes it will take to travel from the top of the Mars atmosphere to its surface the six minutes of terror.Landing on Mars is a complex three-step process: entry, descent and landing. Entry into Mars atmosphere begins 125 kms above the surface and lasts about two minutes, with the spacecraft hurtling towards Mars at about 16,000 kms an hour. Only a specially designed inflatable aeroshell outside the Mars Lander will protect the capsule and its occupants from a friction created temperature of 4,000 Celsius. The heat shield must also act as a brake.NASA Chief Engineer Rob Manning explains the particular problem of Mars it does not have enough atmosphere for a spaceship to emulate a landing on Earth and yet it has too much atmosphere to simulate a moon landing.Within the first two minutes of descent, the heat shield will reduce the crafts kinetic energy by 90 per cent, and, typically, a parachute system is deployed to further decrease speed. But recent test results have not been good and designer Leonid Gorshkov at Russias Energia Space Corporation has decided parachutes are too risky. The Russians are experimenting with descent engines.At the final stage, the astronauts have about 90 seconds to find a landing site that is not only safe but has, or has had, water. Only on such a site can past or present life forms be discovered. In 2005, NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took high-resolution images of the planet to help locate future landing sites. Bob Richards of Optech Industries in Toronto is testing a new generation guidance system, Lidar, which will help the Mars Lander spot obstacles within seconds with a colour-coding radar-like system.Most space agencies plan to send a 40-ton Habitat to Mars ahead of the crew. The astronauts must land close to that advance module, their supply base for 18 months. If they fail to do so, they will die. Filmmaker James C
The Human Factor
Mars Rising - The Human Factor
Season 1 - Episode 4

Show Description The greatest test of the human mind will be the projected almost three-year manned mission to Mars and back. Mental breakdown, sexual tension, near-suicide and mutiny have already taken place on shorter Earth orbit and space travel missions. The Achilles heel of the Mars mission may be the human factor.Crew selection is perhaps the most critical of choices. At the start of space exploration, NASA selected military test pilots for missions in the 1960s, one died per week. In the 1980s, scientists and schoolteachers were chosen to orbit Earth. Today, psychiatrists delve into the human psyche to discover the necessary attributes for a successful 21st century astronaut.The Russians have the most experience in long missions. They test candidates by keeping them isolated and awake for days of non-stop repetitive tasks to duplicate the numbing mindless routine of months of space travel.Life onboard will be crowded, noisy and dirty. There will be no water for showering and astronauts will drink their own purified urine. Noise, workload and disrupted circadian rhythms all cause sleep deprivation. Boring and repetitive food saps psychological and physical energy. Whats NASA cooking up for its crews?Sex in space is a possibility with a mixed crew in close quarters. NASA says that is OK and natural, but different nationalities and customs may give rise to misunderstanding and friction.Isolation and confinement can bring out strong emotions, even violence. Sedation and restraint could be necessary. Family problems on Earth could affect an astronauts ability to function. New methods of psychological assessment such as software that examines facial movements for signs of emotional disturbance are being tested. Six months of boredom while travelling through space will be followed by six minutes of an astronauts lifes most intense activity and terror during the dangerous descent through Mars atmosphere. Training a crew to cope with the p
Staying Alive
Mars Rising - Staying Alive
Season 1 - Episode 3

Show Description Preparing and protecting the human body in deep space may be a greater challenge than all the technological factors in planning a mission to Mars.Living together in a confined environment for up to three years, the six astronauts will become each others caregivers. They will face zero gravity with its debilitating effect on muscle and bone mass; solar storms; inescapable cosmic radiation microscopic particles piercing the skin of the spacecraft and penetrating the bodies of those inside can cause brain damage and cancer. Retired U.S. astronaut and medical doctor Jerry Linenger describes the loss of 65 per cent of his muscle power. For Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and retired astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, cosmic radiation felt like fireworks in my brain. The intensity of cosmic rays experienced by astronauts on the Mars mission will be greater than that experienced by earlier astronauts and could damage their learning and memory vital on the journey to Mars.Laurence Young, Apollo Program Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics with MIT, is developing a method to produce artificial gravity on Earth. Astronauts must be prepared to combat the de-conditioning that goes with long duration weightlessness. Astronauts are training under the ocean and in virtual worlds. If theres an accident on the long hazardous journey to Mars, the nearest ER is millions of kilometres away back on Earth. Even something as simple as a broken bone can be fatal. The astronauts will have to learn new medical and surgical skills to be able to operate in space.Space walks are always dangerous, whether they happen in Earths orbit or in deep space. A solar storm would be lethal to an astronaut caught outside. A new protective spacesuit must be engineered. Solar storms, high energy particles packing millions of volts transmitted from the sun, can also play havoc with delicate instruments. A protective shield must be developed for the spacecr
Rocket Power
Mars Rising - Rocket Power
Season 1 - Episode 2

Show Description The spacecraft that will take a crew, their equipment and enough fuel for the 56-million-kilometre journey to Mars will be assembled in space. This requires a major leap of technology. The record of success isnt good: between them, the U.S. and Russia have sent 38 unmanned probes and satellites to the Red Planet and 22 have ended in failure. Once on its trajectory, the crew will not be able to re-engineer or modify any component of the plans and procedures for the flight to, the exploration of, or the return from Mars. Engineers must get it all right the first time. Or the astronauts will die. In 1957, famed scientist Werner Von Braun created a scenario for an exploratory voyage to Mars and, amazingly, current scientists still respect its basic architecture. Components of a Mars spaceship will be launched and then assembled in Earths orbit. Only when the spacecraft is completed will the crew be sent from Earth. When the spacecraft reaches the outer atmosphere of Mars, a transfer vehicle will take the astronauts on the short but terrifying final sprint to the surface of the Red Planet.The U.S. is developing the Ares V rocket to carry an estimated 100 metric tons of cargo per launch. It may take 10 rocket launches, each requiring 4.3 million kilograms of thrust and a velocity of 11 kilometres-per-second to send sufficient supplies. An alternate scenario has the tons of equipment and supplies needed to sustain the astronauts sent to Mars ahead of the manned spacecraft.Canadian Academy Award-winner James Cameron, a member of NASAS advisory council, has a controversial proposal: reduce mass by taking only enough fuel to fly one way and manufacture fuel on Mars for the return trip.Other fuel system ideas currently being researched include thermo-nuclear propulsion systems and a laser-like beam of super-heated charged particles.Russian scientists are developing Klipper, a winged spacecraft to take the crew on the trip from Earth to
Journey to the Red Planet

Show Description Dr. Paul Delaney, Professor Physics and Astronomy at Torontos York University; and Dr. James Garvin, Lead Scientist for Mars and Lunar Exploration at NASA, guide us though the primary challenges.International co-operation is keyLeonid Gorshkov of Russias Energia Space Agency proudly shows a mock-up of the worlds first manned interplanetary spacecraft, Klipper. After 40 years of building and launching the Mir space station, the Russians have invaluable experience in deep space.It will take at least six months to travel the 56-million kilometres to Mars. The window for a safe return trip might take 1 years to open. The European Space Agency is tasked with finding the best trajectory for the mission.The effects of zero gravity can lead to dramatic loss of body strength and bone mass. Radiation may prove deadly. Scientists are developing space suits that are both protective and flexible. They are also puzzling over how best to create artificial gravity.Experiments are being carried out in some of the harshest places on Earth. NASA is field-testing a prototype Martian suit in Arizonas inhospitable Meteor Crater; scientists are searching for life organisms in Chiles hostile Atacama Desert; and others are testing drills for trying to reach water through the frozen tundra of the Canadian Arctics Devon Island.The search for life on Mars may give clues on how that planet could be colonized. Should a major disaster occur on Earth, the inability to emigrate to another planet would make humans as vulnerable as the dinosaurs in ages past.
One Sweet & Sour Chinese AdventureTo Go

Show Description Bill & Ted are rehearsing in Bills garage when their loud music knocks Missys "brand-new antique" Chinese vase off its shelf. Desperate to replace the broken vase before Missy gets home, the dudes travel back to Ancient China in search of an authentic substitute. Once in China they are arrested for causing a mess in a vase store (called 1000 Vases of Dr. Lao - a joke relating to the cult movie classic The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao) and are sentenced to building the Great Wall of China (a couple of days work - which falls down as soon as they are released). Unaware that their phone booth, which was parked in a tow away zone, has been taken to Kublai Khans palace, the dudes stop at Oodles of Noodles for some lunch. Rufus slips them a note via fortune cookie to let them know about their booth, and they have to explain the concept of Chinese take-out to the waitress named Kitten Kaboodles, who offers them a free vase which is exactly like Missys. On their way to the palace they are shanghaied and taken aboard Marco Polos ship, which is for the best because Kublai Khan had given Marco Polo the phone booth (claiming it would take four photos for a dollar except it was broken) as a going away gift. Bill & Ted find themselves put to work swabbing the deck and later painting the ship. Not appreciating the wild paint job the dudes do on his ship, he makes them walk the plank (and a shark ends up eating their vase), but through a wild series of mishaps they all end up taking the booth back to Italy when the ship sinks. In Italy, Marco Polo reports back to his boss, who is angry when he finds out Marco Polo forgot the rice. Bill and Ted offer the man their take out noodles instead, which he likes so much he decides to rename them (his dog Spaghetti eventually providing the inspiration). Marco Polo sees Bill and Ted off, both of whom are disappointed they didnt get a vase, until Marco offers them one of the free vases he got from the same Chinese restaurant. Upon retur