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» » The Mars Underground (2007)

Short summary

Visionary rocket scientist, Robert Zubrin, has a plan for getting humans to Mars in the next ten years and ultimately turning the Red Planet blue. But can he win over the skeptics at NASA and the wider world?

User reviews


  • comment
    • Author: Madi
    A very well-crafted documentary with excellent special effects and awesome musical score that outline a basic, affordable and realistically plausible plan for the human exploration of the red planet in the very near future -- as few as just 10 years away (if it can be funded). It shows Dr. Robert Zubrin, aerospace engineer and president of The Mars Society, for the visionary and futurist that he is. Mars, as a destination for our planet's various combined space agencies, is both an amazingly welcoming Earth-like world, as well as a cold, forbidding and distant challenge. Unlike our Moon, Mars will be the stepping stone to the rest of the universe, and will be the first real and sustainable off-world human colony. A great glimpse of our future as a spacefaring species.
  • comment
    • Author: Ttyr
    In terms of information (concise, lay information at that!), this documentary was spot on. I found it on my DVR from the Discovery Science Channel (I routinely record "space" night every week). Though the film tends to focus on all of Robert Zubrin's theories exclusively, it's a great poster tool for pushing the agenda of manned space exploration past the moon. I suspect the film's title is a reference to the Mars society, and not to Mars geology (which is what I was thinking at first). Although I'm not a member of the Mars society, but I do agree with the case for Mars in general, and this was more exciting than an hour of watching the Mars rovers slowly dig an inch into Mars' surface.

    Although I like to consider myself pretty familiar with these topics, this documentary really gave me insight into the history and primary concepts of the argument for Mars that I never really knew before. The Mars Underground actually answered many questions that I knew to ask from my experience that I would have thought would go unanswered in this short documentary. In the first few moments, I was already asking about radiation, provisions, bone mass loss (due to gravity), and the overwhelming cost of a short Mars trip only to throw around some dirt and plant a flag.

    Dr. Zubrin's very bold plans really throw standard convention and the tendency to inject too much bureaucracy into a simple project. His almost shoestring budget and nearly arrogant propositions are aligned with the same thinking of the Apollo missions, Christopher Columbus, and other major pioneering ventures. But it's what is needed to take that next step and step out of our reductionist couch comfort to do what's right for humanity in the name of life itself.
  • comment
    • Author: Thetalas
    I've just watched Zubrin's movie, The Mars Underground, a film that is describing his obsession with colonizing Mars. I admired his drive, his goal oriented strategic thinking.

    Many fascinating concepts were described, from technical to psychological to political. Some ideas were really brilliant and got me thinking.

    As interesting as it was, though, there were a lot of parallels that did not seem to work. The much touted comparison with Columbus, for example. Spain sent some people there, but that was because it already had a powerful fleet of ships. The parallel to Mars can only apply only after Earth has a lot of different types of spaceships, private and politically free to roam the "seas". Also, half of the Americas is speaking Spanish, but Spain is not much better for it. Politicians don't forget that. Then I felt that the entire concept was based on the idea that nothing will break. If something does break you are witnessing not only technical failure and loss of life, but something more tragic - at least mediatically speaking: people slowly dying in a spaceship to nowhere, for example. That could go both ways: make people respect the sacrifice and try to do better, or make them so afraid that another half century will pass before we do anything.

    One compelling argument that Zubrin made was that 30 years of doing nothing in space, measuring from the end of the Apollo program, wasted an entire generation of engineers and scientists. For me, that was more evil than the lack of vision. This could be applicable now. The space and aeronautical industry is getting back up. People will be hired more and more and trained in the fields necessary for it. The harm here would be to lose all that knowledge in another political hiccup.

    Too bad that the film was filled with these humanist "let's do it" kind of philosophy that clearly doesn't motivate anyone. Otherwise we would have billion dollar missions to colonize Africa (making sure the self sustained colony pods have automated defences against the heavily armed thugs that rule those regions). Could it be that the most attractive characteristic of outer space is that there is no one there to oppose us? The attraction of the void, pulling and sucking anything into it.

    Bottom line: a dedicated man is trying to do everything possible to make his vision happen. Unfortunately, his vision requires governments and/or private companies to pay billions of dollars with no immediate benefits. No one wants to finance a colonisation of Mars by other people and people with money on Earth certainly don't feel the need to change things. The humanistic philosophy therein also left me cold. I don't see "the American people" very enthusiastic about Chinese or even European missions in space. Until we challenge and overcome this nationalistic view of exploration, no great ideals will motivate anyone. Fruit of the poisonous tree and all.
  • Credited cast:
    Neil Armstrong Neil Armstrong - Himself (archive footage)
    David Baker David Baker - Himself
    Penelope Boston Penelope Boston - Herself (as Dr. Penelope Boston)
    Sam Brownback Sam Brownback - Himself (archive footage)
    George Bush George Bush - Himself (archive footage)
    George W. Bush George W. Bush - Himself (archive footage)
    Franklin Chang-Diaz Franklin Chang-Diaz - Himself
    Louis Friedman Louis Friedman - Himself (as Dr. Louis Friedman)
    John F. Kennedy John F. Kennedy - Himself (archive footage)
    Reece Lumsden Reece Lumsden - Himself
    John McCain John McCain - Himself (archive footage)
    Chris McKay Chris McKay - Himself (as Dr. Christopher McKay)
    Kurt Michaels Kurt Michaels - Himself
    Barack Obama Barack Obama - Himself (archive footage)
    Derek Shannon Derek Shannon - Himself
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