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NOVA scienceNOW : 54 - Space Dangers, Next-Gen Space Suits, Space Food, Plasma Rockets, Vandi Verma

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Can we make it to Mars?

Can humans survive a trip to Mars and back that could take two to three years? This episode of NOVA scienceNOW examines all of the perils of this journey, including deadly meteoroids, bone and muscle deterioration, and cosmic radiation. Host Neil deGrasse Tyson checks in with scientists who are developing new ways to keep astronauts alive on such a journey. Among the innovations covered are meteoroid-proof materials, new space foods and spacesuits, and novel modes of transport, such as plasma rockets. This episode also profiles young female scientist and daredevil Vandi Verma, part of the team that drives the Mars rovers on the martian surface.

Space Dangers - 02:07

A trip to Mars and back could take two to three years. Can humans survive the journey, fraught with deadly meteoroids, bone and muscle wasting, and perilous levels of radiation? Scientists are developing new ways to keep astronauts alive, using novel meteoroid-proof materials, artificial gravity, and exercise. But will they be enough?

Next-Generation Space Suits - 15:27

Today's space suits are mini spaceships, cumbersome oxygen-filled balloons that provide life-saving air pressure but that are notoriously difficult to move and work in. MIT's Dava Newman wants to design a space suit for future Mars explorers that's more like that worn by Captain Kirk than by Neil Armstrong—form-fitting and mobile. But protecting our cells from the vacuum of space is a lot harder than you might think.

Space Food - 26:12

Would you want to eat a three-year-old meal? If you're returning from Mars, you might have to. At the Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, chefs are devising new ways of cooking up dishes that will taste as fresh and healthy on the last day of the trip as they did on the first.

Plasma Rockets - 33:05

What if astronauts could take an express voyage to Mars—one that would last not two-and-a-half years but just a few weeks? A new rocket called VASIMR, powered by a million-degree plasma instead of traditional chemicals, could be the answer NASA is looking for—if only its designers could keep the super-hot engine from melting under its own heat.

Profile: Vandi Verma - 39:44

Vandi Verma is a wanderer. Born and raised partly in India, she moved around a lot thanks to her father's air force career. Always motivated to explore new environments and cultures, she also had one constant—her fascination with flying and outer space. Today Verma is part of the team that drives the Mars rovers, and her unique combination of daredevil thrill-seeking and rigorous preparedness make her just right for the job.

Cosmic Perspective & Space Travel - 49:42

Turkish subtitles will be added soon.

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