Catalyst: Feb 23

Tonight on Catalyst, astrophysicist Professor Tamara Davis and astronomer Greg Quicke meet the Australian scientists on a mission to solve the many challenges of putting people on the red planet.

This is Part 1 of a 2 part science special.

Mars has long held our fascination; we have sent probes and rovers, now the time has come to send humans. In the first of a two-part Mars special, astrophysicist Prof Tamara Davis and astronomer Greg Quicke meet the Australian scientists who are reaching for the stars as they attempt to overcome the many challenges involved in human missions to Mars.

Tamara gets a taste of what it’s like to be an astronaut launching into space as she takes flight in a jet fighter, experiencing high G forces and the feeling of weightlessness. Then meets a team of scientists working out ways to measure and mitigate the effects of micro-gravity on the body.

In Far North Queensland, one of the longest continuous lava flows from a single volcano that erupted 190,000 years ago may provide answers for human shelter on Mars. Escaping the heat of the day, Tamara joins the Ewamian Rangers on country to explore the lava tubes with astro-geologist, Dr David Flannery.

Artificial intelligence has long held promise to perform tasks humans can’t or won’t do. Given the hostile conditions on Mars, robots should be perfect for maintenance, reconnaissance and repair – leaving more time for human exploration and discovery. Tamara joins the CSIRO team in Brisbane as they put ‘Kitten’ and ‘Rat’ to the ultimate test of searching and locating a human survivor.

Production credits: Producer: Poppy Stockell; Directors: Poppy Stockell, Anna Jeffries, Lisa Dupenois; Associate Producer: Dominique Pile; Executive Producer: Penny Palmer; Head of Factual and Culture: Jen Collins.

8:30pm Tuesday on ABC.

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