Marta Kamen spies a drilling site in Lukrum.
Credit: Richard Donnelly / National Geographic
The episode of tonight's (November 26) "March" of National Geographic shows the great efforts that scientists will make to answer some of life's most difficult questions.
"Mars", a docudrama that combines a dramatic scenario with interviews with experts in the style of a documentary, was created in 2016. The series first followed the first humans to land on the surface Of March. Now, the second season of the series plunges even deeper into the complex issues facing Mars and how they align with the concerns of Earth on Earth. The first two episodes of Season 2 have been confronted with tensions between private and government space companies and the question of whether we will treat Mars the same way we treat the Earth. The season has also explored the impact of life on Mars on relationships and people's mental health.
Episode 3 shows how much scientists sacrifice for their work while Marta Kamen, a Russian mission exobiologist and geologist at Olympus Town, goes against Commander Seung's orders to search for life on March. As episode 2 illustrates, Lukrum – the private mining company established on the surface of the Martian planet – will excavate areas of scientific interest without worrying about Olympus city researchers. and how their work could contaminate samples. Kamen is committed to his mission of discovering and studying life on the red planet and does not support how Lukrum has continued to ignore how his actions could affect or even devastate innovative research. And, thanks to his dedication, Kamen is ready to risk everything to advance his work. [How Living on Mars Could Challenge Colonists (Infographic)]
Kamen's struggle with Lukrum and his dedication to research are paralleled in episode 3 by real-life scientists conducting research on Greenland's ice sheet. This vast ice deposit is a hostile environment for humans, as shown by glaciologist Jason Gulley in this episode. He and others spend months every year, mostly in remote areas and in extreme conditions, until the helicopter that comes out will arrive. Gulley and his team are facing extreme temperatures and the threat of losing their way on the ice floe. The frozen rivers threaten to evacuate them as the elements shake their senses relentlessly. But as the ice sheet continues to melt at an alarming rate, the study of the region contributes greatly to our understanding of climate change and how sea levels could rise.
In addition to braving the elements, scientists on Earth as well as fictitious scientists from Olympus Town are facing opposition and skepticism from government and the public. In Olympus Town, Kamen is at odds with IMSF (International Foundation for Science Mars), an Earth-based agency that governs the people of Olympus Town. She fears that Lukrum will contaminate Martian samples likely to contain new life forms, but the IMSF does not want it to be involved in Lukrum's operations.
Here on Earth, scientists studying climate change, such as those studying the Greenland icecap and Arctic ice, face constant opposition. Personal opinions contradict the scientific facts of both the government and the public, and scientists and those who advance climate science must really fight for their work. This fight is presented in the most striking details of this third episode.
The episode also continues to highlight the psychological consequences that could result in life on another planet. From colonists struggling with Master Seung's chagrin to hiding his emotions to retain his authority, to the complex and ever-changing nature of love relationships, life on the red planet is complicated.
Scientists are working to understand how such a trip could affect the mental health of astronauts. Whether it's a long-term trip to Mars or a life on an alien planet that you may never leave, the trip will run under the sign of isolation and difficulties. Hopefully with ongoing efforts to understand these effects, future astronauts will be prepared for such difficulties.
"Mars" airs Monday at 21h. EST / 20h CST.