Mars (2016 TV series)
|Based on||How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||12 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||47 minutes|
|Original network||National Geographic|
|Original release||November 14, 2016 –|
December 17, 2018
|Preceded by||Before Mars|
Mars is a documentary and hard science fiction television series produced by National Geographic, which premiered on November 14, 2016, on their channel, and FX. Prior to its official air date, it was launched in a streaming format on November 1, 2016. It blends elements of real interviews with a fictional story of a group of astronauts as they land on the planet Mars.
The series is based on the 2015 book How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek. The fictional narrative alternates initially between the years 2033 and 2037, using present day non-fiction interviews to explain events unfolding in the story. The series was filmed in Budapest and Morocco.
A companion book to the series, called Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet, was published in October 2016 detailing the science behind the show. A prequel episode, called Before Mars, was produced and released conjointly with the series. It tells the fictional story of a moment in the life of one of the astronauts, and the decisions she made to get involved in science.
In the year 2033, a crew of six astronauts launch from Florida on a journey to be the first people to set foot on Mars. During the descent into the Martian atmosphere, there is a malfunction with their spacecraft, the Daedalus. They land 75.3 kilometres away from their planned habitat. On Earth their progress is being monitored. In the second season, the story jumps ahead several years into the future after the Daedalus astronauts have built a full-fledged colony called Olympus Town. Having established humankind as an interplanetary species, Season 2 examines the impact that humans have on the Red Planet and the consequences the planet has on us.
Intermixed with the story are real-life interview footage from the present, of the crew, and their mission control; there are interviews with various public figures, including scientists and engineers, such as Elon Musk, Andy Weir, Robert Zubrin, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, about the difficulties that the crew might face on a journey to, and living on, Mars.
- Ben Cotton as Ben Sawyer, American mission commander and systems engineer.
- Jihae Kim as
- Hana Seung, American mission pilot and systems engineer, later mission commander, and
- Joon Seung, her twin sister and CAPCOM of mission control on Earth, later secretary-general of International Mars Science Foundation, the multi-nation organization funding the Mars expedition.
- Clémentine Poidatz as Amelie Durand, French mission physician and biochemist.
- Sammi Rotibi as Robert Foucault, Nigerian mission engineer and roboticist.
- Alberto Ammann as Javier Delgado, Spanish mission hydrologist and geochemist.
- Anamaria Marinca as Marta Kamen, Russian mission exobiologist and geologist.
- Olivier Martinez as Ed Grann, CEO of the Mars Missions Corporation, consortium of private aerospace companies preparing Mars expeditions.
- Cosima Shaw as Leslie Richardson, a logistical engineer who joins the expedition to oversee the base's expansion. In Season 2 she becomes secretary-general of International Mars Science Foundation.
- Esai Morales as Roland St. John - CEO of Lukrum.
- Jeff Hephner as Kurt Hurrelle - Mission commander of Lukrum mars mission.
- Roxy Sternberg as Jen Carson - One of the Lukrum workers.
With the exception of Martinez and Cotton, all of these actors joined the second season, which started production in July 2017.
For the second season, Dee Johnson took over as showrunner. Stephen Cragg and Ashley Way joined returning director Everardo Gout. Esai Morales, Roxy Sternberg, Gunnar Cauthery, Levi Fiehler, Evan Hall, Akbar Kurtha and Jeff Hephner joined the Season 2 cast.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||November 14, 2016||December 19, 2016|
|2||6||November 12, 2018||December 17, 2018|
Season 1 (2016)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||1||"Novo Mundo"||Everardo Gout||Story by : Karen Janszen |
Teleplay by : Karen Janszen and Paul Solet
|November 14, 2016||1.42|
|In 2033, the first human mission to Mars successfully enters its atmosphere and lands, though their commander is injured saving the ship and they land far off course. In the present, SpaceX is attempting to land the world's first reusable rocket.|
|2||2||"Grounded"||Everardo Gout||Story by : André Bormanis |
Teleplay by : André Bormanis and Paul Solet
|November 21, 2016||0.974|
|The Daedalus crew battles harsh Martian terrain to reach base camp. Command changes with the death of the original commander. In reality, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly undergoes a mission on the International Space Station, which will be the longest number of continuous days a human has spent in space.|
|3||3||"Pressure Drop"||Everardo Gout||Story by : Mickey Fisher |
Teleplay by : Mickey Fisher and Paul Solet
|November 28, 2016||0.795|
|In 2033, the Daedalus crew struggles to find permanent shelter, which hinges on locating a water source. Currently, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos partner to launch an orbiter.|
|4||4||"Power"||Everardo Gout||Story by : Ben Young Mason |
Teleplay by : Ben Young Mason and Paul Solet
|December 5, 2016||0.866|
|In 2037, four years after Mars colonization, a massive electrical storm threatens the outpost. In reality, Antarctica serves as a parallel for remote human settlement.|
|5||5||"Darkest Days"||Everardo Gout||Paul Solet||December 12, 2016||0.738|
|In 2037, 8 weeks into the dust storm, the colony is on lockdown. Psychological pressure takes its toll as the crew is trapped in the habitat. The dust storm is in its 2nd month and the base commander has to ration power. The temperature in the habitat has dropped and the doctor is checking all crew members. A botanist who loses his grip with reality, due to the decimation of his crops and the disintegration of his marriage, opens an airlock killing himself and several others. In 2016, NASA performed the simulation "HI-SEAS" mission in Mauna Loa, Hawaii to test the effects of isolation and the psychology of a crew living closely together for a period of 12 months.|
|6||6||"Crossroads"||Everardo Gout||Story by : André Bormanis |
Teleplay by : André Bormanis and Paul Solet
|December 19, 2016||0.714|
|In 2037, a devastating tragedy in the colony forces everyone to question the mission. On Earth an upcoming statement (presumably about the mission ending), results instead with an announcement of the discovery of life on Mars. In the present, SpaceX attempts another pioneering launch.|
Season 2 (2018)
|Title ||Directed by||Written by||Original air date ||U.S. viewers|
|7||1||"We Are Not Alone"||Stephen Cragg||Dee Johnson||November 12, 2018||0.582|
|It is April 2042, five years after "Crossroads". Terraforming of Mars has started with the arrival of a group of highly skilled astronauts/miners working for a for-profit corporation called Lukrum specializing in natural-resource extraction. The people at Lukrum's base request water and know Commander Hana Seung of Olympus Town can't say no. Dr. Amelie Durand plans to go back to Earth. In the real-world footage, the episode shows many people, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Andy Weir, Elon Musk and Kim Stanley Robinson talking about capitalist pursuits on Earth of Arctic oil.|
|8||2||"Worlds Apart"||Everardo Gout||Dee Johnson||November 19, 2018||0.413|
|In May 2042, Lukrum finds water on Mars and Marta Kamen demands to study it, before Lukrum can damage any potential life living therein. Dr. Amelie Durand finds out she's pregnant, maybe ending her plans to go back to earth. Hana Seung and her sister Joon Seung are reunited, but not in the way they had hoped for.|
|9||3||"Darkness Falls"||Everardo Gout||David Gould||November 26, 2018||0.463|
|By August 2042, Amelie and Javier have found out that they are having a girl. A solar flare strikes Mars, knocking out power and communications to both Olympus Town and Lukrum. Marta was outside looking for life, and becomes stranded as a result of the power loss, putting her life in extreme jeopardy. Commander Seung is distracted by her grief regarding a recent personal tragedy.|
|10||4||"Contagion"||Stephen Cragg||Julie Hebert||December 3, 2018||0.453|
|Twelve hours after finding Marta, a mysterious illness kills one person in Olympus Town and makes half of Lukrum sick. Before asking the Chinese government for help, IMSF and Lukrum think of public relations to the news of a new disease on Mars. Not one to wait, Cmdr. Seung calls the Chinese orbiting space station asking for help for medication, which later arrives and prevents any more fatalities both in Olympus Town and with Lukrum. Lt.Cmdr. Mike Glenn, 2nd in command, questions Seung and asks the IMSF to be in charge of Olympus Town.|
|11||5||"Power Play"||Ashley Way||Paul Keables||December 10, 2018||0.359|
|By November 2042, Lt.Cmdr. Glenn's request to be in charge of Olympus Town is denied by the IMSF. Lukrum and Russia make a backroom deal and the IMSF are powerless. Hana Seung and Robert Foucault search for water, and Robert tells Hana he is quitting Olympus Town to work for Lukrum. Both try to kindle a budding relationship, which fails as Hana is devoted to the mission. Glenn cuts power to Lukrum after exceeding the power agreement, unknowingly jeopardizing the entire Lukrum base. When Cmdr. Seung later finds out, Lt.Cmdr. Glenn is confined to his quarters. Amelie later goes into premature labor two months early and gives birth.|
|12||6||"The Shakeup"||Ashley Way||Dee Johnson||December 17, 2018||0.391|
|By December 2042, Lukrum uses an underground explosion to locate liquid water but this action also causes marsquakes. Lukrum colony gets hit worst with several dead, including their commander who searched the wrecked station for survivors and was asphyxiated when his spacesuit was damaged. On Earth Lukrum's CEO tries to downplay the cause of the quake and buys his way into IMSF, only to get stumped by IMSF director Richardson who hands the show to Olympus Town where Seung reveals the truth about the quake and Amelie and Javier present their baby, Gabriella Durand Delgado, to the audience on Earth. In the final scene three years later in May of 2045, the team looks at the first cloud on a satellite image and celebrates evidence of their efforts in terraforming Mars.|
The first season of Mars received mixed reviews, holding a 61% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 7.33/10 based on 18 reviews; in 2018, the critical consensus stated:
"Ron Howard's direction ensures that Mars is an attractive endeavor, even if the show struggles to move smoothly between its documentary and fictional elements."
|Saturn Awards||Best Television Presentation||Mars||Nominated|||
- Falcon 9 flight 20, a flight of Falcon 9 that landed an orbital class booster on land for the first time in history, shown on the final episode of the first season of Mars
- SpaceX Starship, in development by SpaceX
- Space Launch System (SLS), in development by NASA and Boeing
- Mars Design Reference Mission, the standing NASA plans for a hypothetical crewed missions to Mars
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