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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  November 2, 2022 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT

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- [nrator]his is what theuture of life f the eah looks ke. the moons a fuy deloped commercial hub and way station for traveling deeper into space. anyone who wants a truly out of this world vacation destination, can now look to the stars and back down at earth. the first permanent settlers of mars, arrive to self building habitats that produceir, wate and foo with aew generation dested be bornn alien anets. this is the next step in our evolution as a species. (machine glitching) - well, this is the coolest thing
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i've done in a long, long time. - [narrator] today, scientists are blazing the trail to this very future. - [speaker 1] this is just a remarkable structure from an engineering perspective. - [narrator] i want to know what breakthroughs will be made. - water coulbe used arocket fl. so we could use the moon as a refueling station. - that is a big, hairy, audacious goal. - [narrator] that forge a future to... - [speaker 2] here we go. - [narrator] life off earth. (suspenseful music) (mechanical hand whirring) (text glitches on and off screen) (exciting electric piano music begins)
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my name is justin shaifer and i'm an environmental scientist. since i was a kid growing up on the south side of chicago, i've always dreamed of exploring space. when it comes to the very expensive prospect of sending humans to live in space. many people ask, "why should we go?" buas someone that's concerned about climate change and the health of planet earth, should we be thinking about moving to another home? if so, how will we actually build an outpost on a new planet and then survive the lethal environment of outer space? i'm in columbus, ohio to meet someone who knows firsthand. former nasa astronaut dr. kathryn sullivan, kathy was a truly inspirational figure to meet. i was an intern at noaa, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration the first time we met. it was then that i saw the possibility of being an astronaut as something that was very real.
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- [narrato incredible. this prospect seems possible in my lifetime. to find out just how and when humanity will accomplish this, i'catching up with kath my olmentor. i just remember listening to you speak. - oh cool. - it made me want to be an astronaut. it made me think that it was actually a feasible thing. - well, thanks. that makes me feel really good. welcome to our planetarium. - [justin] whoa. - [kathryn] i can project things on this dome that will take you anywhere in the universe. - [narrator] kathryn is a geologist, deep sea explorer, and was the first american woman to walk in space. (piano keys slam) she knows a thing or two about life off earth. - you spent a lot of time in space, right? - my total is like 23 days. - [narrator] kathryn flew multiple shuttle missions during her 15 years at nasa. - [kathryn] once you are in orbit, you have effectively no weig. to be able to sort of drift in the air like rticle dust,
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is pretty magical. [narrator] but spacis dangerous. vacuum devoid atmosphere, ter, a oxygen. everything we need to survive. - [justin] do you think the human body as is, is designed to tolerate space for years, decades? - there're definitely some unknowns and some ifs about tt. if our bodies are not sensing the gravity field, the calcium in our bones, which ves our bones their strength, that starts to leech out. - [narrator] not only that, absent protective gear, long term exposure to radiation damages dna, and can lead to cancer. - [kathryn] you can certainly lose your life in space. and you've gotta be awaref that and clear minded about the risks of it. - [narrator] much of what we know about these dangs comes from studying the long term inhabitants of space stations, orbiting earth. nasa astronaut scott kelly spent nearly a year on the international space station, or iss. as a result of this mission, scott experienced cognitive decline, damage to his eyes,
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and even cnges in his dna. before we can attempt to build common bases on the moon or mars. we're going to have to figure out how to protect our bodies d nds from threats like these. - [neil armstrong] it's e small step for man, one giant le for manki. - [narrator] but where there's a will, there's a way. - ma now is i think like the moon was in the 1960s, a big, hairy, audacious goal. i definitely think exploring mars and figuring out what would it take to get there? i'd love to see us do that. i think it's really wired into human nature to be exploring. to not explore our place in the cosmos, to not continue to expand our understanding at the largest scale of where we live and our place in the universe, i think is just shortsighted. - [test director] 3, 2, 1, 0. (rocket engine roars) lift off. we have a lift off.
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- with so many unknowns surrounding the welfare of humans in deep space. nasa is first setting its sights on aeturn tr to the on. (rocket gine rrs) the artemis mission, scheduled to launch by 2024, is the first step towards establishing a permanent human presence on the moon. with the ultimate goal of using (indistinct) the spacecraft would mean the moon would serve as a hub for new (indistinct). the goal is to learn how to live and operate in a celestial body, improving technologies necessary for a mission to mars. but at present, lifting materials above earths atmosphere is extremely expensive. to build a moon base, we'll need to find cheaper methods and reusable equipment. (exciting orchestral music begins) i'm in colorado to visit sierraevada cooration. who is working with nasa on this heavy duty problem. - [john] welcome to sierra nevada corporation, home of dream chaser. - wow. it's beautiful.
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- [narrator] john curry is the director of the dream chaser project. - [john] dream chaser is a space plane. so it's just like riding on an airplane, landing horizontally on a runway. as you know, the space shuttlflew 135issions and it worked very well. what makes dream chaser different is, that it's so much cheaper. the space shuttle was just too expensive to maintain, we're lighter weight, we're stronger than shuttle. - [narrator] the dream chasers clever design and carbon fiber body lows it to ld enougcargo to supply astronauts on the iss for half a year. with innovations like these, it can be flown 15 times before maintenance. keeping costs down. the space shuttle required maintenance after each launch. with the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the dream chaser is now the only space craft capable of delivering people, supplies and science experiments to the iss and then navigating back to earth for a gentle runway land. it can also perform the whole mission autonomously
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without a pilot. - i believe this vehicle is gonna be critical to transporting humans to and from space on a routine basis. - [narrator] sierra nevada plans to conduct six iss resupply missions by 2024. (upbeat synth music begins) and unlike the shuttle, which launched aside two boosters in the fuel tank, the dream chaser's designed to be launched into orbit, wings folded on top of theocket. (roct engine roars) - [justin] so what's the top speed someing like this would reach? - orbital velocity is 17,500 miles an hour. - [narrator] dream chaser will circle the earth 16 times a day at this speed. a winner returns and enters the atmosphere. it practically has to grind to a halt. - what's cool abouthis and very innovative about this design is this is called a lifting body. meaning the lift that you get from this vehicle is actually the body itself rather than the wings. - [narrator] unlike most planes, dream chaser's actual body, not its wings takes the full force of the air pressure. the underside of the dream chaser is wide and flat,
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and pushes against the atmosphere to slow reentry. - [john] probably the biggest risk for dam chase is the entry. because you see 3000 degrees fahrenheit, ming back through the atmosphere to get to the ground. so you gotta make sure that this vehicle can survive 3000 degrees fahrenheit. - the drm chaseran land anywhere there is a 10,000 foot long runway. which means it can return to any major airport in the world. (tires skidding) for the artemis moon mission, nasa is looking at a radical technology to house the astronauts, inflatable habitats. these habitats will connect to a core power module dubbed, gateway. sierra nevada designed a system called the large inflatable fabric envirment. for life, that can dock to the gatay module. - [john] we have a module you could actually turn into a space station and that would be what you would want to take to the moon. - [narrator] the habitat can be folded in a compact manner for launch, and then later expand in space.
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one's connected to nasa's gateway module. inflatable habitats will serve as a base for researchers traveling to and from the moon. - the key elements to get us to the moon is we have to put the infrastructure in place to make sure that people can actually stay there. once you've got that, then you have a permanent presence in space. - [narrator] technologies like these are forging the path for humans to build a permanent home, off earth. (dramatic electronic music begins) in the future, inflatable lunar habitats prove safe and reliable gateways to the moon surface. on a weekly basis, researchers shuttle between the moon and earth on advanced space planes. with enhanced rocket boosts, travel time is reduced over the 400,000 kilometer journey, from four days to just one. with the completion of a permanent research base on the surface of the moon. space agencies approve both the base and the orbiting station for commercial uses.
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ace tourts can even enjoy a one week stay. (upbeat synths begin playing) - with inflatable habitat technology. a permanent presence on the moon might become a reality sooner than you think. but, with virtually no atmosphere, further exploration of the inner surface will require netechnoloes to prott explors from the suns lethal radiation. the last space suits designed to function on the moon, were custom fabricated for the apollo astronauts more than 50 years ago. these suits were both expensive and cumbersome. i'm in brooklyn, new york to meet ted southern, the co-founder of final frtier desn. his company is developing the next generation of space suits, designed to overcome these limitations. - [justin] whoa, this is pretty cool. - this is where we make space suits. generally doing prototyping of suits. we work with nasa and commercial space industry,
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to make suits work better. this is an eva suit, extravehicular activity. so this is when you leave the vehicle. it's like a space ship for one person. - [narrator] in e days of apollo, space suits were only worn for a sgle missn. final frontier is designing usable sts, that are flexible, lightweight, and durable. - [ted] now nasa's talking about going back to the moon, but for a lot longer period of time. so they want suits that are more mobile, that won't wear you out, and that can last longer. there's no reason for a human to go to the moon or mars unless they can get outside and walk around. - [narrator] the key to surviving extreme environments like this, lies in the pressurized eva suit. - [ted] it's like wearing a basketball. which is where the challenge of like, how do you get a basketball to fit a human being? and how do you get it to move like a human being. - [narrator] pressization is essential to suiving in the vacuum of space. without it, blood would fill with bubbles
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and the body would puff up to twice its size, causing death in less than two minutes. but, pressurizing the suit to protect the wearer from the harshness of space, creates a problem with agility. - so you lose a lot of dexterity. - dexterity, tactility, range of motion. althese things are really important. we actually have a tool that allows us to test the gloves without having to put on the whole suit. - oh really? nice. - you want to check that out? - yeah. - [narrator] final frontier won a prize from nasa for their superior pressurized glove design. - [ted] this is a pressure chamber and there's a pump underneath, that will pull gas out from the chamber. stick your hands in through the ports. - [narrator] the chamber is designed to create the same extreme vacuum of being in space. - [ted] you're at about four psi lower than ambient. you're approaching na's eva space suit pressure. - [justin] okay. so this is the problem that astronauts have. - [ted] exactly. - [justin] almost feels like i have a rob hand. yeah.
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- i'd really appreciate it, if you solve that rubik's cube too. (justin laughs) - [justin] let's see. do you think that there's anything wrong? how these things should be designed for people? - yes. (laughs) space suits are traditionally built like big bubbles. theoretically, there are garments that could tighten around your body, equivalent to the gas that you're breathing. which wod be much tighter fitting, potentially more mobility that could revolutionize how space suits work. we're gonna let air back into the chamber. - oh wow. that definitely changed very quickly. - [narrator] b that's not the only problem they're solving. moon dust is sharp and very fine grained. the particles get everywhere and can cause life threatening injuries if inhaled. final frontier's eva suit has a unique feature to prevent this from happening. the rear port can dock directly with a landing craft or rover. - is this like an entrance on the backside?
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- [ted] that's right. yeah. you get in through the back. this will allow an interface with a suit port. so you can be inside your rover and jump in the space suit without bringing dust into the rover. it's also easier on the astronauts to get in d out this way. nasa's current suits, you get in through the waist and that means you have to really contort your shoulders. - like a dance move then. - yeah. anthere are a lot of astronaut injuries from suits. but one of the most major ones is shoulder injuries. - from getting into- - from getting into the suit. - [narrator] ted's got a surprise for me. he's letting me try on the pressure suit, which is something that usually only astronauts get to experience. - right now, we have air flowing in through the umbilicals here on your chest. the only place it will come out of is right here at your regulator. - you can kind of push your head back. - [narrator] with my pressure balanced. it's time to experience what walking on the moon or mars might be like. - okay. try walking around in that. (upbeat edm music plays) - [justin] i have no,
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i feel like i have no joints right now. - yeah. - i'm like a tin man. (laughs) well, this is the coolest thing i've done in a long, long time. i don't know if i ever did anything cooler than this. - with advances and new flexible protective suits like these. - [ted] hey, welcome back. - [narrator] the path to exploring other planets, seems clear. (upbeat electronic piano begins) - in the future, eva suits for space exploration are as flexible and comfortable as wet suits. skin tight elastic undergarments apply stable, mechanical pressure against the skin. eliminating the need for air pressurization. these suits alsoompensat for lower gravitational pull. allowing scientists to explore just as easily as they can do on earth. (upbeat electronic piano ends abruptly) (mysterious synth music begins) - [narrator] even with protection from the harshness of space.
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astronauts, won't survive a week on an alien planet without one living essential, water. but the cost of bringing enough liquid water from earth, to support even a small base on mars is astronomical. is means if we're going to establish an outst in space, scientists must find a reliable source of water elsewhere. i'm near l.a. to meet dr. dean bergman at honeybee robotics. honeybee robotics is developing cutting edge tools to help nasa find and extract water on the moon or mars. - oh. nice. - [dean] why don't we go look at some cool things. - alright. - [dean] we are developing these technologies to be able to create a sustainable civilization off of our planet. water is the most precious resource in space. just because we can use it for so much and the more we can collect, the more ability we'd have to really live off world
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and on other planets. - [narrator] in 2009, nasa confirmed the presence of water onhe moon the form of ice. some estimate more than a hundred million tons might be found under the surface at the moon's south pole. not only will future space faring pioneers, need this water to drink and grow food. (water drips) this essential liquid has another potential important use in space. by splitting water to hydrogen and oxygen, both of these molecules can be used as propellant for spacecrafts. - [dean] water can also be used as rockefuel. so we could use the moon as a refueling station on the way to mars, potentially. - [narrator] honbee's drills were sent to mars on multiple missions to determine what was below theurface. - in 2002, the mars odyssey rover detected large amounts of water ice beneath the surface. (rocket engine fires) so in 2007, nasa launched the phoenix mars lander to srch for it.
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- [dean] we were a part of the phoenix mission. the idea was to uncor the ice the pol of mars. so we would scratch a line on the surface and uncover the ice. - wow, whoa. this is a powerful thing to be in the presence of. (dean laughs) - [narrator] the phoenix mission discovered it, the first direct evidence of frozen water on mars. in 2018, the european space agency's mars express orbiter discovered liquid water for the first time beneath the south pole region. so honeybee is developing a method to extract the liquid water with this. the trident drill. a planetary volatiles extractor or pvex. (machine whirring) and vince vendiola is showing me how it works. - so this is honeybee's larger vacuum chamber. it is a one meter by one meter by three meter tall thermo vacuum chamber. pvex is a coring drill with integrated heaters and electronics to be able to capture water from lunar ice.
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- [justin] very cool stuff. - [narrator] the large vacuum chamber is used to recreate the same low pressure atmospheric condition found on mars. - [vince] well let's do a drill test, close the chamber here. - [justin] here we go. - i'm gonna lower the foot pad onto the surface. (machine whirring) - [nartor] this hollow cord drill can dig into the lunar or martian underground and collect water ice and icy soil, meters beneath the surface. (machine popping) - [justin] what's that noise? - that percussion sound is our cam spring mechanism, which gives us an additional weight on bit. - [justin] it's kind of like a space jackhammer. - [vince] like a space jackhammer. and our software is designed to where we only percuss when the system detects that you're drilling into something hard. and then we save a lot of energy. - [justin] so it's taking a core sample right now? - [vince] right. so, we capture our sample force and then we activate heaters. - [narrator] it's a process to extract liquid water on the moon or mars. first, the heaters must vaporize the ice.
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then, the vapor would be collected within a cold trap and converted into solid ice for storage. without this system, the liquid water would instantly evaporate and be lost. - [justin] is there water in there now? - let's see what we got. - okay. - open up the chamber. (exciting electronic music plays) - the epic reveal. - there we go. - oh, nice. nice. this is the future right here. - [narrator] the red planet has plenty of ice. some buried just inches below the surface. using this technology to extract it, will make a future life off earth possible. (upbeat suspenseful synth music) - [narrator] in the future, advanced robotic drilling technology sets off a gold rush in space. enepreneurs, race to prospect asteroids and comets across the solar system.
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autonomous probes mine these celestial bodies for precious metals and water ice. once the ice is converted into rocket fuel, it is more valuable than gold. trading posts and way stations emee across the solar system. to process this precious cargo and further the exoration of sce. (light guitar music begins) - [justin] with a large source of water ice identified on mars. building a long term base there sounds more and more viable. but what other problems would scientists need to solve before people can live in a hostile environment? on missions that could stretch for years. yeah. we are definitely on another planet right now. - [narrator] the main desolate part of wayne coty, utah. here, it certainly looks like mars. i'm heading to the mars desert research center to meet commander marc levesque and his team.
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(light guitar music ends) (door unlatches) - [justin] hi, how's it going? - [marc] welcome. let's head on upstairs. - [justin] alright. hello folks. - nice to meet you. - rich? - rich. nice to meet you. - [marc] we have a nice international crew here. - [narrator] this habitat serves as an earth analog of an early maned research base on mars. it contains the essential components that a future team would need for long term mission. including living quarters, the greenhouse, science labs and observatories. - there's a variety of research that goes on here. psychological, geological, astronomical. - [narrator] the water parched extremes of the mars desert research station, or mdrs, make it perfect for simulating a mission on mars. - this is one of the closest analogs to mars on earth. given the landscape, given the isolation.
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given the sporadic communications. - [narrator] at the mdrs, every effort is made to simulate the challenges conducting research in a hostile alien environment. - [marc] any outside activity, such as exploring the area or conducting projects out there. we have to be in space suits and we have to go through a depressurization for five minutes in the airlock. - science time. - [crew member] okay. we're gonna take two rovers with us. and these two guys are gonna go in the second rover. - roger that. - [crew member] hello hab, this is aries 1, that's us entering the airlock now, over. leaving the airlock. hab, airlock is secure. - [narrator] a primary scientific objective of the first research mission on mars, will be searching for signs of life, past or present. (low toned boom) - [narrator] people have been preoccupied with finding life on mars for centuries.
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in the 19th century, while mapping the red planet with a telescope. italian astronomer giovanni schiaparelli w what hthought to bwater chnels. and many believed they were artificially cstructed canals built by martians. but, with the arril of the first marir missio to mars in the sixties and seventies. scientists confirmed, that there was not an advanced civilization. however recent discoveries of geological formations have existed them about the possibility that some form of life could have once existed. - [crew member] alright so we're going to get out now. - [justin] alright. - [crew member] so we're heading for that boulder, on the second peak. - [narrator] the geology surrounding the mdrs, is comparable to what the first researchers on mars will encounter. - [crew member] just wanna be on the lookout for any minerals or interesting rocks that we can evaluate. - [narrator] to answer the question
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whether primitive forms of life existed on mars. future researchers will look to rocks. by peering inside these rocks. they may find the presence of biomolecules or even fossils with microbes. (sighs) - [justin] we're at the top of kissing camel ridge. we're gonna mark this spot on our gps. - [crew member] hab, i can give you the grid reference now. 4249, 540. over. yeah, this is the spot for gypsum. - [narrator] gypsum is a mineral that exists on mars as well. in 2011, the mars rover opportunity discovered veins of gypsum in the rock beds. because gypsum forms in the presence of water on earth. scientists believe that bodies of water once flowed on the red planet. the team here in utais simulating this arch. (upbeat percussion music begins) - [crew member] we're gonna keep our eyes open. when it's covered in mud, no one knows what it is. - [narrator] on earth. gypsum has a practical u.
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it's used in the home, in walls and plastic. on mars, it could also be used for building new habitats. - [crew member] so you'll get a lot of gypsum on these clay beds. it just pieces of rock that push up. - is that gypsum there? - yeah, here's some gypsum actually. we've got a little right here. (grunts) some is nice and clear and pretty, and some is really cloudy. so we'll just mark the location on gps and then analyze them back at the lab. - [justin] sounds good. - [narrator] by examining the gypsum and its surroundings on mars. scientists might one day find evidence of life. and prove what also evolve on the red plant. back at the lab, the team processes and examines the stone. - [crew member] part of the interesting thing about being in t simulation is you start thinking through like, well, what would we need for this? and what would we need for that? but on mars, everything has to be either with you already, or you have to cut up cans to make it work.
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- right. but i can imagine when you first visit mars, you're gonna have to have scrappy operations like this. - right. there's gonna be stuff that you're gonna have to make it work. and this is definitely a great practice for that. - [nartor] while some team members are working out the technical challenges of life off earth, others are studying the researchers themselves. phd student rich wittle is studying how humans behave when confined for long periods of time in aerospace environments like these. - [rich] what we're looking at here in particular is the psychology of crews in isolated and confined environments. we're looking at sleep quality, profile of moods, positive and negative affect. - [narrator] will being cooped up in isolation drive people crazy? any mission to mars would involve being away from earth for years. a one way trip alone takes about eight months and the first habitat likely wouldn't be much larger than thepace capsules tiny arters
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- so i guess this is one of the rooms right? this is very humble. - [marc] and then this is probably the deluxe suite. - [justin] the commander suite. oh, you can see light. this is luxury, man. - i know. i'm feeling guilty. - [narrator] marc has experienced the psychological impact of living in isolation, first hand. - i mean, marc was stuck in winter over in antarctica. - [justin] yeah? - [marc] at south pole. yeah. - [justin] so three months or? - oh no, a year. - oh wow. - [marc] it's a challenge. you're locked in with people. you can't leave. that kind of confinement sort of forces people apart. towards the end, personality conflicts start to come out. - [narrator] one of the longest mars mission simulations took place in russia, called mars 500. six volunteers were isolated for 520 days. they even simulated the up to 20 minute radio communication lab between earth and mars.
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the experiment showed that prolonged confinement led to sleep disorders, fatigue, and depression. before the first crew can be sent to mars for the long haul. space agencies need to figure out how to overcome the tedium, personality conflicts and emotional toll of extended separation from loved ones. - [marc] crews going to mars will be training together for at least a couple of years. so they're gonna work out the kinks. they're gonna find out how to work together, because that's the real key in any kind of situation like this. - [narrator] with mars simulations like this, we'll definitely be able to solve the technical and psychological challenges of establishing the base on mars and forge a path to the future of life in space. (upbeat synths begin playing) in the futur researcherst the international ma base make a remarkable discery. a particular rock specimen complely changes the way


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