How do we explore space and land robots on Mars, and how are young UK scientists leading the world in this exciting journey?
In a new series of fun-filled videos made in conjunction with the UK Space Agency, six space scientists and planetary explorers chat with astrobiologist (and BBC Focus regular) Prof Lewis Dartnell and games presenters Cam and Seb chat through the medium of what they do best – playing video games.
Each video features a different space-themed game being played live, while the hosts and guest chat about the themes it explores: the real science behind the game, how we are exploring space and planets like Mars right now, and how young UK scientists are leading this exploration. We also get a great insight into what the guest’s fascinating job is all about, how they are involved in our quest across the Solar System, and what they hope to discover.
“We wanted to work with video games as I think it’s a great way to connect with a young audience,” says Lewis. “Games are a lot of fun, and throw up plenty of interesting points that we can talk about with the scientist”
Things don’t always go right for them along the way (especially the poor Kerbal astronauts!) but there are lots of laughs, and plenty of fascinating chat with the scientists and engineers. Each game also comes with a separate Q&A video where the featured scientist or engineer answers all the weird and wonderful questions submitted by the online audience. How do you build a robot to explore Mars? What is it like living in Antarctica? And, errr, what happens if you fart in space..?
Here’s the full list of videos so you can jump to your favourite and find out which is the most accurate space game (hint – it’s not CoD:Infinite Warfare, obvs):
Space Engineers, with Manish Patel
How is Manish building instruments to study Mars’ atmosphere up-close and hopefully find signs of the methane breath of underground martian bacteria?
Mars 2030, with Beth Healey
Hear about Beth’s inspirational job, living in one of the most remote bases in Antarctica and learning how to keep astronauts healthy in space.
Planet Base, with Ryan MacDonald
Ryan tells us what it will take to keep people alive on Mars and build a self-sufficient base on the red planet. Could we ever make Mars more like the Earth?
Kerbal Space Programme, with Abbie Hutty
How does engineer Abbie design Mars probes, and can she help us successfully launch our own Kerbal astronauts in the game?
Waking Mars, with Lewis Dartnell
Join Lewis as we explore underground caves in Mars and talk about where we think we are most likely to find martian life.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, with Matt Balme
Find out how Matt is making maps of another world and helping decide where best to land our next-generation martian rover, ExoMars 2020.