Horizon goes behind the scenes at NASA to discover how it is preparing for its most ambitious and daring mission: to land men – and possibly women – on the surface of Mars. It’s over 40 years since Neil Armstrong made the first human footprint on the moon. But getting to the red planet would involve a journey of at least three years.
Horizon meets the scientists and engineers who are designing new rockets and space suits, and finding ways to help astronauts survive the perils of this long voyage. It turns out that having the ‘right stuff’ for a mission to Mars might not be quite what you expect.
Discussion immediately following the film led by Dr. Kevin Cannon, our own UCF Mars expert, on the topic of “Why Does Mars Exist, and Why Should We Go There?”
Mars, the small frozen desert planet, is the way it is and couldn’t be any other way…right? But what if we look back with billions of years worth of hindsight, and apply a bit of chance and probability. If we do so, we will find that Mars very easily might not have formed at all, or could have ballooned to the size of the Earth and evolved quite differently than it did. The discovery of thousands of exoplanets allows us to see how those alternate realities did play out around distant stars, and gives insight into our own red planet. But should we go to Mars? Is it worth the cost and risk, especially with so many pressing problems back here on Earth? The potential rewards are immense: a sustained human-led science campaign at Mars is the best chance we have of answering fundamental questions about the origin of life in the solar system, and determining how rare life is in the universe as a whole. The challenges and accomplishments associated with sending humans to Mars may also inject a bit of hope and existential meaning into a society that increasing needs it.
All are welcome to drop by Memory Mall to take in a telescopic view of Mars during its wonderful viewing season, the best since 2003. We will set up several telescopes to give everyone a chance to see what’s going on on the surface of Mars. We will also have telescopes trained on Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn as well, for a multi-planet viewing bonanza. Some things to note:
- There is no need to stay for the whole two hours, nor any need to come right at 8:30. In fact, the wait times will probably be shorter later in the session.
- The event is on Memory Mall, not at the observatory itself.
- This observing session is weather-dependent, and we will announce on our website, Facebook, and Twitter about whether the clouds will allow us to hold the event.
Check out our guide for additional resources on Mars: guides.ucf.edu/mars