Episode Summary

Directed by Jon Kalina,
Documentary Script by Jon Kalina,
Additional Directing and Writing Brain Murphy,
Narration Written by Brian Murphy.

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 there’s 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 Earth’s 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 spacecraft as well.

The astronauts chosen for the Mars Mission will be subject to DNA examination. In future, an astronaut’s genes may be altered to ensure he/she is the best possible candidate. The strongest – and the weakest – link of any successful mission to Mars remains the crew. Keeping the astronauts alive is the number one priority.

Links and References
Stanley Borowski
Dr. Stanley Borowski received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University and his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Michigan. He is senior research engineer and advanced concepts manager at NASA Glenn Research Center Space Transportation Project Office in Cleveland, Ohio. His responsibilities include co-ordination and oversight of all Human Exploration and Development of Space transportation design and analysis and ‘bimodal’ nuclear thermal rocket propulsion system analysis and vehicle design for Moon and Mars missions. He has been team-leader for many of NASA’s major in-house studies, including NASA’s Mars Design Reference Missions and the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts studies.


Jeffrey Hoffman
Jeffrey Hoffman became a doctor of philosophy in astrophysics at Harvard University and also has a Master’s degree in material science from Rice University. He is a veteran astronaut of five orbiting missions and has logged more than 1,200 hours and 34.6-million kilometres in space – the 1985 Shuttle Discovery mission where he made the first STS contingency space walk; the 1990 Shuttle Columbia that included his ultraviolet astronomy laboratory project; the 1992 Shuttle Atlantis when the crew deployed the European Space Agency-sponsored free-flying science platform; the 1993 Shuttle Endeavour when a record five space walks by four astronauts captured and serviced the Hubble Space Telescope and the 1996 Shuttle Columbia 16-day-mission that produced a wealth of new information on the electrodynamics of tethers and plasma physics. Hoffman has been a senior lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 2002 and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 5, 2007.

“Mars Rising” Episode 3 Staying Alive
Scientists and experts
in order of appearance
Nationality Company or Institution
Laurence R. Young American Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Apollo Program
Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Jeffrey Hoffman American Former NASA Astronaut, 1,000 hours Space Shuttle, Professor Aeronautics & Astronautics MIT
Marcelo Vasquez American NASA Radiobiology Program & Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York
Jerry Linenger American NASA Astronaut, MIR Cosmonaut. Aboard International Space Station MIR for 132 days
Sheila Thibeault American NASA Langley, Senior Research Physicist
Daniel Baker American University of Colorado-Boulder, Director Atmospheric and Space Physics, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
Dave Williams Canadian Canadian Space Agency, Astronaut. Crew commander NEEMO 9. Training for 3 space walks Shuttle Endeavour August 2007
Robert Ambrose American NASA JSC, Chief Robotics
Hal Doerr American Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Director of Simulation,
training trauma teams in care of patients in extreme environments
Smith Johnson American NASA
James Garvin American NASA’s Chief Scientist Mars Exploration Program and Lunar Exploration