By Prarthana Mitra
Making the science nerd’s ultimate dream come true, NASA launched “On a Mission,” an eight-episode podcast series that will follow the US space agency’s latest mission to Mars – from its journey through the solar system till it lands on the red planet on November 26.
The first couple of episodes are already available online for download, NASA said in a statement late Tuesday, adding that the series will follow the robotic explorer as it travels hundreds of millions of miles through space. Each episode will explore different facets of the journey and introduce listeners to the people behind the mission, who have spent years working on it.
In a first, NASA’s podcast marks a new way of tracking a mission in real time during flight, reportedly combining humour and captivating storytelling through interviews with the InSight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
The first episode recounts the history of Martian missions undertaken so far, painting a picture of how many landers have made it to Earth’s neighbour since the first mission in 1965. Less than half, according to narrator and host Leslie Mullen. An accomplished science writer and photographer, Mullen navigates through important and interesting questions, which are then picked up the InSight team and backed by facts, figures and anecdotes.
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“When things go beautifully it looks easy, but it’s really not easy,” said Sue Smrekar, Deputy Principal Investigator for the InSight mission. “Any kind of exploration is just not easy or guaranteed – ever.” But if successful, this mission will inaugurate studies into the planet’s “inner space” for the first time in history. An understanding of Martian crust, mantle and core is believed to generate a better idea of the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system and rocky exoplanets.
Mars enthusiasts are definitely overjoyed and await the upcoming episodes with bated breath, as the lander gets closer to Mars’ atmosphere. The final episode will cover the momentous landing and perhaps even give an idea of what to expect next.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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