© 2020 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

"Life Is Tenacious": Water on Mars, Astronauts in Space, and the Possibility of Alien Life

This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its "Chemistry and Camera" instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface.

Mars has been receiving a lot of attention recently. In the new Ridley Scott movie, The Martian, a NASA botanist is stranded on Mars and has to rely on his own ingenuity to survive. In real life, scientists have discovered evidence of present day water on the red planet.

I'm optimistic that the proper experiments done below the surface of Mars will turn up something interesting. - Steve Kawaler

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with astrophysicists, Steve Kawaler of Iowa State University and Jasper Halekas of the University of Iowa, along with retired NASA astronaut, Clayton Anderson, to discuss the accuracy and impact of films like The Martian.

"Anything that brings the attention of the public to the science that we're able to do now, and that we may be able to do in the distant future, is a good thing," says Kawaler.

"Also by including the realistic aspects of NASA operations, hopefully people will remember what NASA has been able to do in the past, in terms of putting men on the moon and bringing them back safely when things go wrong. You can't make that stuff up. NASA's history is in the books; it actually did happen."

They also discuss the importance of finding water on Mars, the major challenges of putting humans on the red planet, and the future of space flight for NASA and the international community.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River