Martian base looks like a computer game in NASA video

Watch pressurized rovers roll around the surface of the Red Planet, navigating a someday home for humanity, in this computer-animated concept video.

Michael Franco
Freelancer Michael Franco writes about the serious and silly sides of science and technology for CNET and other pixel and paper pubs. He's kept his fingers on the keyboard while owning a B&B in Amish country, managing an eco-resort in the Caribbean, sweating in Singapore, and rehydrating (with beer, of course) in Prague. E-mail Michael.
Michael Franco
2 min read

The movie "The Martian" showed us what a human settlement on the Red Planet might look like, and NASA has suggested we may reach that goal in the next 20 years.

It's possible the attempt to establish an outpost on Mars may be canceled, but NASA is still planning for it and sharing its concepts for what the exploration may look like as technology develops.

In this video, released December 22, NASA projects what a field station on Mars in the 2030s could look like after approximately 20 years of both manned and cargo-only missions. We see inside the science and habitat modules, and get a quick look at what growing food on a barren planet might look like.

The station's 100km (about 62-mile) "exploration zone" contains Regions of Interest "for science and capability development, and may contain resources to support human explorers," NASA explains.

While many of the details in the video are familiar enough, like the landing zone and the habitation area, there are some more intriguing ones, such as the raised round plates called Kilopower Systems. These systems would use nuclear fission to help provide additional power for the base that couldn't be generated by solar energy alone due to Mars' often dust-filled atmosphere. There's more on these power systems in another NASA video here.

All of this might feel a little familiar to anyone who saw the recent hit film "The Martian." NASA's short doesn't have quite the same level of CGI, but it is surprisingly entertaining. If it only had a narration from "Martian" star Jeff Daniels, it would be perfect.

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