On February 11, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brought leaders in the space exploration field together with the creative team behind the hit Fox film "The Martian" for "The Journey to Mars 101" forum, where they discussed real-word possibilities of a voyage to Mars. Astronauts, scientists, and engineers revealed how new developments in technology are contributing to Mars exploration and encouraged students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The event was co-hosted by NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
"The Martian" team discussed the production and impact of the film, as well as the ways science fiction inspires the next generation of explorers to dream bigger. The event took place at the Zanuck Theater on the Fox Studios Lot in Los Angeles and featured panelists such as director Ridley Scott, "The Martian" author Andy Weir, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and several scientists working to make the journey to Mars a reality.
The morning's first panel highlighted the latest technological innovations fueling NASA's expeditions to Mars and featured astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who just returned from the International Space Station; Michael Meyer, NASA's lead scientist for Mars Exploration; Jennifer Trosper, NASA Mission Manager for Mars 2020; and Dave Lavery, NASA Program Executive for Solar System Exploration.
Television host and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye moderated the second panel, entitled "Living on Mars and Beyond - Homesteading in Space," during which leaders from NASA, the White House, and more discussed the future technologies that will enable people to visit and eventually live on Mars. Panelists included Tom Kalil, White House Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation; Peter Diamandis, Chairman & CEO of XPRIZE; Neil Gershenfeld, Director at Center Bits and Atoms, MIT; and Alicia Jackson, CTO, Drawbridge Health, Inc.
The event's final panel featured the creative team behind Fox's Academy Award nominated film "The Martian," including director/producer Ridley Scott, screenwriter Drew Goddard, and author Andy Weir, who penned the 2011 novel on which the film is based. The session, "Why Science Fiction Inspires Me," gave the team a chance to reflect on the process of making the film and discuss the role storytelling plays in inspiring support for not only space programs but also STEM careers across the board.
Attendees also enjoyed the opportunity to preview The Martian Virtual Reality Experience, which allows users to fly onto the surface of Mars and experience key scenes from the movie in a 360-degree virtual reality environment.
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