Imperial in the news: How to put a human on Mars

Last weekend (27 and 28 July 2013) the BBC broadcast a 30-minute programme called How to put a human on Mars, exploring some of the key aspects of how a mission to Mars might look.

Is there life on Mars? A manned-mission could find out

Dr Simon Foster (Physics) was one of five researchers at Imperial who took part. He showed how ice could be used to produce fuel for the return journey and how parachutes would be deployed to slow down and stabilise the landing craft before the astronauts could step foot on the red planet.

To demonstrate this he threw a camera off of the Queen’s Tower, attached to bin bags by string, and talked about his experience in the Imperial Podcast.

Ryan Robinson, from the National Heart & Lung Institute, showed how centrifugal forces could produce artificial gravity, using a bottle of water and a merry-go-round, while Professor Mark Sephton (Earth Science & Engineering) donned a space suit, previously used in Dr Who, for a walk around a quarry in Leicestershire to explain how a manned mission would be able to carry out a greater range of investigative research compared to the robots and rovers currently preferred by NASA.

Professor Tom Pike (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) discussed the logistics of the trip, including the systems that would be needed to ensure the mission went smoothly.

In the run-up to the show, Martin Archer (Physics) took part in a Twitter Q&A using the hashtag #bbcmars, which people can still contribute through, to give further insight into the questions raised by thousands of interested people. He and Dr Foster also appeared on a number of shows, including BBC Breakfast and on the BBC World Service, while Professor Pike was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.



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