Nasa's Unexplained Files (2012) s04e02 Episode Script

Rise of the Planet Killer

NASA's mission is to explore the unknown.
What we know about the universe is a tiny fraction of what's actually out there.
In the search for answers, it launches its scientists into space, its craft beyond the limits of the solar system.
We have no idea what's out there.
There might be dangers lurking in the darkness.
We run across more mysteries than discoveries.
We don't know what it's going to throw at us next.
Astronauts on the final Apollo mission fight for their lives.
Something is going terribly, terribly wrong.
The FBI investigates the mysterious disappearance of a top NASA scientist.
What does he know, and could he possibly be a threat? And declassified transcripts reveal an unexplained sighting on the far side of the moon.
Whatever this phenomena is, this is beyond strange.
These are NASA's unexplained files.
The final Apollo mission ends in near-disaster.
Suddenly, their eyes start to water.
Their faces are burning.
The deadly incident happens just days after Soviet cosmonauts gained access to the spacecraft.
Was it sabotage from the Russian side? Was there a technical malfunction? Hardliners in the kremlin might not want this mission to succeed.
At the height of the cold war, the world lives in the shadow of nuclear devastation.
It's really hard to overstate the fear of world war III.
It's a real and present danger in the lives of all Americans.
NASA's Apollo-soyuz missions, run in cooperation with the Soviet union, offer a ray of hope.
Thomas Stafford, Vance brand, and deke slayton are the astronauts chosen to rendezvous with their Russian counterparts in space.
This is a sign that things can change and the cold war can be overcome.
Coming together, both east and west, the Russians and the Americans, gave hope to the world that we would all not die in a fiery explosion some day.
At 12:12 P.
on July 17, the Apollo capsule docks with soyuz 120 miles above the earth.
For the next 44 hours, astronauts and cosmonauts have access to each others' spacecraft.
Now the two nations are no longer competing.
They are now cooperating in space.
The Apollo-soyuz mission is going according to plan.
It's textbook.
Nine days in space, three million miles traveled, an historic linkup in space.
The mission appears to be a major step forward in east-west relations.
Now, all the Apollo crew has to do is bring the spacecraft down to earth.
The landing sequence for an Apollo capsule was very straightforward and very simple.
After the initial atmospheric breaking, you fall straight down Pop out a series of parachutes to slow you further till the parachutes themselves gently deposit you on the surface of the ocean.
That's the theory.
What should be a routine procedure turns bad.
We have a problem.
Suddenly, their eyes start to water.
Their faces are burning.
Something is going terribly, terribly wrong.
Something is in the cabin air, and it's corrosive and potentially deadly.
Mission commander Thomas Stafford identifies the threat.
Stafford sees the yellow-brown mist, he smells it, and he instantly realizes exactly what it is.
It's one of the most deadly substances used in man's spaceflight.
Nitrogen tetroxide is a very caustic, corrosive, and poisonous gas.
It can kill you in minutes.
At 30,000 feet, the capsule is falling at 300 miles per hour.
If the crew don't deploy the landing chutes, they will die instantly upon impact.
The timing is disastrous.
They're hurtling towards earth, they're supposed to be deploying the parachutes, and instead, they're fighting for their lives.
As the capsule continues to descend and the men fight the effects of the fumes, they begin to lose consciousness.
The parachutes, because the automatic system was not activated, will not come out.
Stafford fights off oxygen starvation.
Stafford knew he was suffering from chemically induced hypoxia, so he started to grunt-breathe to keep oxygen in his lung to keep the pressure up so he wouldn't pass out.
They manage to manually deploy the parachutes thousands of feet too low.
They're going to splash down, but they're going to hit and they're going to hit hard.
The Apollo capsule hits the ocean so fast, it tips upside down, trapping the suffocating astronauts inside.
Stafford recognizes immediately that they need to get fresh oxygen.
Problem is, he's strapped in upside down.
Stafford unlatches himself and he drops like a rock, but the oxygen masks are back on the other side of where he just came from, and he's running on borrowed time.
The upside-down capsule's air vents are blocked by water.
Stafford knows that his crewmates may have only minutes to live.
And he hears slayton coughing but he hears nothing coming from brand, and he recognizes that his crew member is in serious trouble.
He looks over and brand has passed out.
If Stafford's going to do something, he's got to do it now and he's got to do it fast.
He has to find the oxygen masks.
He finds them and puts one onto brand who Miraculously, brand begins to regain consciousness again.
He also gives one to slayton and puts one on himself.
The capsule has a limited oxygen supply.
It's a quick reprieve, but his crew is still in trouble.
Stafford can now focus on getting the capsule upright so that they can finally get some fresh air.
He deploys purpose-designed floats in the Apollo's nose cone to get it upright.
He can finally open the vents.
The craft is suddenly filled with fresh air.
They can breathe again.
You can imagine this was the sweetest air this crew has ever tasted.
As soon as the astronauts are out of danger, focus shifts to how the incident happened.
A lot of speculation started to fill the media.
Was it sabotage from the Russian side? Was there a technical malfunction? It was reasonable to fear that hardliners in the kremlin might not want this mission to succeed.
What should be a diplomatic triumph is on the verge of catastrophe.
NASA launches its investigation.
NASA has to find out what caused this almost-tragic end to a successful program.
Docking pilot deke slayton's testimony sheds light on what went wrong.
Slayton remembered having read off a command to shut off the reaction control system, but he says there was a squawk on the intercom.
Brand didn't hear the read-off and didn't hit the switch.
As a result of this, the reaction control system gets left on and deadly gases from the thrusters are vented back into the cabin and essentially turned the capsule into a gas chamber.
Ultimately, the mistake on not flipping the switch was really a communications error.
Thomas Stafford's quick actions saved his crew and prevented a breakdown in superpower relations.
It is no understatement that the Apollo-soyuz mission could've ended in absolute disaster if not for the quick, calm, and cool thinking of tom Stafford, who saved his crewmates and saved the mission.
Today, we remember the Apollo-soyuz mission as a moment when the cold war thawed just a little.
The handshake on Apollo-soyuz symbolized for the world that the space race was coming to an end and that there was hope that the cold war, the shadow that we had all lived under, would be coming to an end.
The near-disaster has become a footnote in history.
Thanks to Stafford's heroics and the NASA investigation, the mission doesn't end in disaster and political turmoil.
Still to come, a scientist working on NASA's multibillion-dollar Mars mission mysteriously disappears.
He had significant access to important technology.
Did he cross the line? Well, that's what everybody wants to find out.
A NASA scientist vanishes.
The FBI investigates.
No explanation, he's just gone.
But nothing disappears without a trace.
What does he know, and could he possibly be a threat? Ohio state university.
Ron li is one of the leading scientists in NASA's $1.
5 billion Mars mission.
This guy is a world expert in remote sensing and geospatial mapping.
He's made really important contributions to the Mars exploration rover missions as well as NASA's lunar reconnaissance orbiter mission.
In January 2014, he's at the pinnacle of his career, working towards a manned mission to the red planet.
He's primarily responsible for the imaging technology on NASA's latest Mars rover.
Professor Ron li is in line to be a principal investigator on Mars 2020, which is really a space scientist's dream gig.
This is the job, a mission to Mars.
This is the The is the gold standard.
On February 15, Dr.
li doesn't show up for work.
One day, out of the blue, he's gone.
And i mean gone.
He doesn't even pack up his office.
All his possessions still in his office.
His wife's still in the states.
And he disappears.
This is a very accomplished scientist.
He's not the type of guy you would expect to just drop off of the map.
Why would he disappear? The first clue comes when the missing scientist sends a brief e-mail to Ohio state university.
There was a short e-mail from this scientist asking for the leave to take care of his parents who are in China.
But that's all there is.
University officials who respond to the e-mail receive no reply.
They try to reach out to him, no luck.
They can't make contact.
For almost a week, li's colleagues can only speculate about his fate.
When he finally makes contact, the message comes from China.
Six days after he disappeared, he sends a resignation e-mail to his employers.
Why would a person who submitted a Grant that likely would've been approved for imaging on Mars, why would he suddenly disappear? This just doesn't make any sense.
Four days after li's resignation, his wife arrives at his lab unannounced.
When li's wife went to clear out her husband's office at Ohio state university, she was questioned by the university about li's actions.
She maintained that li was very secretive and never discussed his work and that she knew nothing about it.
The pattern of behavior is so disturbing that university staff alert the FBI.
The bureau agents were so worried about li's wife's behavior, they put her on a watch list.
The FBI discovers that in the weeks before he disappeared, li was already under investigation by his employer for links to a Chinese research institute.
Just before he left, Ohio state university was investigating his ties to a top educational facility in China.
He's been on staff for 20 years.
Now, that doesn't look right.
Li's recently discovered China connection poses awkward questions.
What does he know, and could he possibly be a threat? Li's work gives him access to highly restricted cutting-edge technology intended for the Mars 2020 mission.
Li was working on developing a new imaging technology for use on the Mars 2020 rover, and this was such a new, sensitive technology that it's controlled by the government.
It's not allowed to leave the country without express permission.
This is specific to national security.
This is the heart and soul of long-distance surveillance.
This is exactly the kind of technology the Chinese would love to have, not just for a space program, but for top-secret military surveillance.
Two weeks after li's disappearance, security officials intercept his wife as she's trying to board a plane to China.
Li's wife is detained at the airport in San Francisco when she was on her way to meet her husband in Shanghai.
She has all of li's files on disk drives, on thumb drives, laptop.
Obviously this is a concern.
Could li have been living a double life? The FBI had to seriously consider the possibility that li was a Chinese spy working within NASA.
You can imagine what NASA's thinking.
Do you have a problem? Do you have a spy in your midst? Did he cross the line? Well, that's what everybody wants to find out.
In November 2015, the Chinese space agency makes a dramatic announcement that seems to confirm NASA's worst fears.
They've now announced a Mars landing mission for 2020, the same time frame that li was going to be working on a Mars mission.
The China space agency plans to land a rover on Mars without any exploratory missions.
The ambitious goals heighten fears of espionage.
Our missions to Mars in the very beginning failed.
Russia, all of their martian orbiters have failed.
Here's China suddenly saying, "we don't need any orbiters.
We're just going to land right on Mars.
" How could the Chinese be so confident? Knowing what's happening in China right now and their aggressive space program, the timing is suspect.
Coincidence? I don't know.
I come from the intelligence world.
Really there are very few coincidences.
The links between li's disappearance and the rapid progress of China's Mars program remains unconfirmed.
Has a federal offense been committed? The FBI's investigation is ongoing, so we're going to have to wait and see.
Still to come, Apollo astronauts see something they can't explain on the far side of the moon.
There's something there and it looks like smoke.
This is beyond strange.
Apollo astronauts encounter something impossible on the moon.
The astronauts see something down on the lunar surface.
There's a strange light down there.
Apollo 8.
There's something there, and it looks like smoke.
Declassified NASA transcripts reveal the astronauts are unable to explain what they saw.
Whatever this phenomena is, this is beyond strange.
On a clear winter's morning, the $113 million saturn v rocket towers over Kennedy space center.
We have ignition sequence start.
At 7:51 A.
, it blasts off.
The engines are armed.
Four, three, two.
Liftoff at 7:51 A.
In just 10 minutes, it carries the Apollo 8 capsule beyond earth's atmosphere.
Apollo 8 is mankind's first mission into deep space.
They're heading into unknown territory.
These will be the first people to orbit the moon.
We don't know what we're going to find.
We don't know what's out there.
After crossing over 230,000 miles of space, Apollo 8 finally reaches its destination.
Apollo 8, all systems go.
See you on the other side.
As the capsule's orbit passes behind the moon, Apollo 8 loses radio contact with earth.
For 45 minutes, the astronauts are further from earth than any human has ever been.
Mission control won't know until they reemerge, "have they made it?" Apollo 8? Apollo 8, this is Houston.
Ground control waits.
The media waits.
The world waits.
Apollo 8, Houston.
Go ahead, Houston.
This is Apollo 8.
When the spacecraft reappears, the crew seems unharmed by their ordeal.
Good to hear your voice.
The mission is a success.
The secret of what they saw during their isolation remains undiscovered for years.
On the back side of the moon, where your communications are cut off from the earth, there was a recording device onboard that records anything that's being said.
NASA transcribes the recordings and seals them in the archives.
They remain classified for years.
When amateur investigators discover the contents of those recordings, they're astonished.
In the final minutes before heading back to earth, the crew has a very bizarre conversation.
There's a strange light down there.
Is it a bonfire? It might be campfires.
And what the transcript shows is quite extraordinary.
The astronauts see something down on the lunar surface.
They see lights.
And they actually say, "there's something down there.
It looks like a fire.
" These are two NASA astronauts on an Apollo mission, talking about seeing a campfire or a bonfire on the surface of the moon.
This is beyond strange.
There's no ambiguity in that language.
Borman says, "bonfire.
" Anders suggests, "campfire.
" Those are the words they really use.
We've got everybody standing on our heads down here.
There was no visual record of what the Apollo 8 astronauts saw.
Telemetry and radar tracking is solid.
Velocity 27,800 feet per second.
But just seven months later, the Apollo 11 mission captures an image of a phenomenon similar to what borman and Anders described.
Whatever this phenomena is, it's been visually ID'd by one Apollo crew and photographed by another.
At high magnifications, the image becomes pixelated, but there is speculation these marks could be what the Apollo 8 crew described as smoke.
This is not some rumor or some conspiracy.
This is something that is documented officially.
Investigators rule out the possibility the astronauts saw a natural phenomenon.
There's no free oxygen on the moon, so you're not going to have a fire on the surface.
It's just It's physically impossible.
But there's something there and it looks like smoke.
We know it can't be a campfire, so it has to be something else.
One alternative source of oxygen and therefore fire could be spacecraft debris.
There is oxygen in the fuel of a rocket, so one theory is, could this be part of a rocket impacting on the lunar surface? After reaching the moon, the Apollo craft jettisons its stage-three rocket booster.
Could this be responsible for the Apollo 8 bonfire sighting? I suppose it's a possibility.
I guess there might be some smoke from it.
There was still some fuel onboard.
NASA tracks and documents the path of every separated booster.
These records contradict the rocket theory.
When NASA look at the rockets from Apollo 8, they find, no, they have not impacted the lunar surface.
They're still in orbit.
That still leaves the question of, what were the astronauts seeing? Apollo program geologist Pete Schultz has a theory that could explain the sightings.
Could it be that there was some form of eruption, an eruption of cold gas? Could this have been what they saw? The moon is supposed to be geologically dead, but Schultz has found evidence that a hardened lava lake on the moon contains trapped pockets of gas.
Occasionally, these vent into space.
We've been looking at some features on the moon, and we see evidence that there must have been some form of degassing event that threw up dust.
If these eruptions catch the sunlight, they can look like smoke, but the lava lake is thousands of miles away from the Apollo sighting, so it's unlikely that this is what the crew witnessed.
They saw this on the other side of the moon.
That isn't the area that you would expect to see eruptions.
Astronauts who have studied the lunar surface agree that this could not account for the Apollo 8 sightings.
I went around the moon 75 times and i never saw anything like that, and my orbit was high inclination enough that i saw a good share of the lunar surface.
So we're left with this question again, what really did they see? The mysterious sightings remain unexplained.
Still to come, astronomers catch a terrifying glimpse of our planet's fate.
What we're witnessing here is entire worlds being torn to pieces.
That's terrifying.
Astronomers find a star defying the laws of physics.
Whatever's happening is very exciting and very mysterious.
The physics doesn't seem to make sense.
The answer to the mystery could spell earth's doom.
This is an inevitable fate and there's nothing to be done.
Harvard university scientists use the kepler telescope to hunt the cosmos for dying stars known as white dwarves.
A white dwarf is what we call an evolved star.
This means that the star was born, it lived what we call its main sequence life, like our sun is currently doing, but then it died.
The nuclear reactions in its core went out.
On may 30, the Harvard team detect unusual activity around a white dwarf in the Virgo constellation.
We know this is a white dwarf, but this is a white dwarf unlike any we've seen before.
There's something weird going on.
It's a mystery.
We really don't know what this is.
White dwarfs are usually surrounded by a layer of light gases, but this one seems to be shrouded in dense metals.
The strange thing about this star is that we're seeing these heavier elements in the surface, and that's something that you really shouldn't see in a white dwarf.
We have calcium, aluminum, magnesium, even iron on the surface of this star.
How is that possible? The presence of these metals on the surface of the star baffles astronomers.
A white dwarf has a very powerful gravity.
Those heavy metals should have sunk to the center.
The physics doesn't seem to make sense.
There should not be heavy elements on its surface unless the physics has turned the star inside out.
There is no known force capable of turning a star inside-out, so the metals cannot be from the star itself.
They must come from somewhere else.
Since we don't normally expect to see these elements at the surface of a white dwarf, are they being supplied from another source? Light readings reveal the presence of a mysterious object passing across the face of the star.
But alone, it doesn't account for the existence of vast quantities of metals.
We have a clue as to what's going on here.
Every four or five hours, it gets a little bit dimmer, and that must be due to something coming between us and that star.
Whatever's happening, these fluctuations in the light are occurring more and more often, and that's very exciting and very mysterious.
Dips in the star's brightness can indicate the presence of an orbiting planet, but the object orbiting this white dwarf isn't behaving like any world.
It can't be a single planet because the dips in light would be at regular intervals.
It's not even multiple planets, because, again, those are predictable.
These seem to be at random.
As the team continue to monitor the star, they detect a massive debris trail behind the orbiting object.
This discovery leads them to a shocking conclusion.
The dying star was once orbited by several planets, but it is now tearing them apart.
This is extraordinary.
What we're seeing for the first time is a star that has destroyed its terrestrial planets and is now consuming them.
So what's happening here is we're seeing the surface being ripped off and we're seeing all these different pieces orbiting around not as one planet anymore but as something that's been destroyed.
The white dwarf's massive gravitational forces tears the metals out of the planets and scatters them across the star's surface.
We're seeing a star take its planets with it to the stellar graveyard.
This is an event never before seen in human history.
What we're witnessing here is entire worlds being torn to pieces.
We're watching the end of a star system and a planetary system right before our very eyes.
The scale of destruction is chilling, and it could offer a glimpse of our own fate.
It's very easy to dismiss this because it's happening so far away.
But what we're actually seeing is the future of our own solar system.
One day, our sun will burn itself out and turn into a white dwarf, and it too will become a planet killer.
Every day, the sun is a little larger than it was the day before.
Eventually, it will swell up and engulf Mercury and then Venus and then the earth.
This system is a peek into our far-distant future.
What's happening there is going to happen here.
Our future here on earth is a terrible future.
We will just vaporize.
That's terrifying.
Still to come, the appearance of green fireballs in the skies above roswell sparks a major military investigation.
Even as we sit here today, it is a mystery completely unresolved.
Glowing green fireballs terrify pilots in the new Mexico skies.
No one can come up with a rational explanation for what all these people are seeing.
The sightings become national news headlines.
When both civilian pilots and military pilots agree that they've seen the same thing, that's a problem.
A lone pilot traveling high above new Mexico sees a green ball of fire flying towards his aircraft.
It's not just a distant observation.
Whatever this thing is, it flies directly at the plane.
This thing is getting larger and larger, and they're so worried about an imminent collision that they take evasive action.
Just 30 minutes later, the mysterious fireball buzzes another aircraft.
Both pilots are unable to explain what they've seen.
All pilots are familiar with the environment in which they operate, so when they say, "this is like nothing we've ever seen before," you can take that to the bank.
When the pilots report their encounters, the U.
air force claims the so-called "fireballs" are just flares.
There's a problem with that explanation.
Flares wouldn't be 2,000 feet up in the air.
The whole purpose of flares is to illuminate the ground.
Over the following weeks, further reports emerge of strange green lights in the new Mexico skies.
One of the brightest appears over roswell.
As news of the sightings spread, there's an element of hysteria that spreads across the nation.
The press starts writing these headlines, "have we been visited from out of space?" The lead story in the country today.
"Has e.
Finally arrived?" Jet fighters raced aloft to intercept a reported saucer.
The timing of the sightings is uncanny.
It comes just 18 months after the infamous roswell incident.
When the green fireballs start appearing above military bases, the U.
air force takes action.
High-ranking military officials are definitely getting nervous.
These unidentified lights are appearing near several high-security sites in the United States, and nobody has any idea what they are or where they're coming from.
On December 9, the air force asks leading astronomer Lincoln lapaz to investigate the sightings.
Lincoln lapaz is a respected astronomer, leading scientist.
He and colleagues convene a special conference to investigate these mysterious sightings.
Lapaz considers the possibility the fireballs could be connected to a recent meteor shower.
Meteors regularly appear in the skies above this part of the country, so it's a plausible theory.
Meteors will show a bright light in the sky, and a lot of times, they can be green, depending what the makeup of it is.
If there's nickel in it, that can create a green glow.
Three days into his investigation, lapaz sees the green fireballs for himself.
This sighting leads him to reject the meteor theory.
There's no Sonic booms, there's no trails or traces on the ground.
Lapaz's conclusions are pretty emphatic, these green fireballs are artificial.
Lapaz does not speculate on who could be making the fireballs.
Declassified military records reveal high-ranking air force officers feared the fireballs were a new Soviet superweapon.
Did the Soviets have a secret stealth weapon that was capable of reaching inland military bases completely undetected? If the Soviets could fly that far undetected over American territory, i mean, this was a potential disaster.
Soviet reconnaissance flights were responsible for several sightings of lights in the skies over Alaska during the cold war.
But new Mexico was beyond the reach of Soviet military aviation in 1948.
The Soviet union simply didn't have the capability to do this.
There was no way they could fly undetected a thousand miles into the United States.
The fact that these green fireballs are Soviet incursions over the United States, that theory fails.
The origin of the fireballs remains a mystery for decades.
In 2005, a researcher for aerial phenomena puts forward a new theory.
The lights could be caused by fallout from nuclear testing.
He brings out the theory that these really are natural occurrences that result from all the nuclear testing that took place during the 1950s in the American southwest, especially in new Mexico.
But the dates of the sightings don't match with known nuclear tests.
There were no nuclear tests in this area.
Even had there been nuclear tests, fallout is invisible.
It's not something you would see glowing in the sky.
To this day, witnesses continue to report sightings of green fireballs in the U.
And as far away as britain and Australia.
Their origin and purpose remains unexplained.
No one's ever come up with a definitive theory of what these lights are, and so it's probably just going to always remain unexplained.
Still to come, cameras on the Mars orbiter capture an image of something strange on the surface of the red planet.
The first thing that comes to mind is that this takes craftsmanship.
This bears all the hallmarks of something that was intentionally put there.
A NASA craft captures an image of something unexpected on the surface of Mars.
It's a huge object.
It towers over the surrounding landscape.
Could the mystery object rewrite the history of the red planet? The first thing that comes to mind is that this takes craftsmanship.
This bears all the hallmarks of something that was intentionally put there, something that might have been erected.
July 24, 2008.
NASA's Mars reconnaissance orbiter passes above the surface of the red planet.
Its high-rise camera captures an image of a remarkable object.
All of a sudden, you see this towering structure that's looming over the landscape.
When NASA publishes the photo, the press names it "the Mars monolith.
" When you see a giant structure sitting on an On Mars, the first thing that comes to mind is the monolith in "2001 a space odyssey.
" In Stanley kubrick's Sci-Fi classic, "2001 a space odyssey," monoliths are extraterrestrial devices used to accelerate human evolution.
The Mars reconnaissance orbiter captures the image from an altitude of more than 100 miles.
It may only be a tiny little dot in this photo, but this is taken from space.
This structure looks huge and it's casting a long shadow.
It looks like a really, really tall building looks when seen from orbit on earth.
The mystery object bears little resemblance to any known natural feature.
When you see something that That's built with straight lines, rectangles, squares, the first thing that comes to mind is that this takes craftsmanship.
The monolith in "2001 a space odyssey" was the work of fictional extraterrestrials.
The origin of the real Mars monolith is the subject of speculation.
What would be the purpose of building a very tall, thin structure of some kind on Mars? It conjures images of stonehenge.
Maybe it's the foundation of some tall structure.
Archaeologists recently discovered that stonehenge lies on top of a huge complex of structures.
There is speculation that the Mars monolith could also once have been part of something much bigger.
Is it something that is just a remnant of a larger object that existed in the past, something that would've been weathered and eroded over time? The monolith's height and regularity have inspired speculation about the existence of an advanced structure known as a space elevator.
A space elevator is essentially a long cord.
One end is anchored to the planet so that you can send a payload climbing up this ladder-like structure into orbit as opposed to launching it with a heavy rocket.
Theoretically, the space elevator cord attaches to a counterweight in orbit such as an asteroid or space station.
You build it on the equator and it goes up 100,000 kilometers.
That's a long way.
And then you can get into space without expensive rockets.
Elevator capsules much like cable cars use the cord to climb out of earth's gravity.
This capability would give a civilization a head start in colonizing other planets and exploiting their resources.
You can use that as a launching point to go into the solar system.
So the space elevator is sort of a dramatic engineering undertaking.
Mankind is not yet able to land scientists on Mars to examine the monolith's structure.
The idea of a martian space elevator remains pure speculation, but the reality may not be far away.
It sounds like science fiction, but actually, there are companies developing this technology right now.
If mankind builds one of these structures, the stars are within our reach.
There is no doubt under those circumstances that we'd become an interplanetary species, a civilization that lives and works with millions of people out there.
NASA's research shows us glimpses of our destiny.
This system's a peek into our future.
What's happening there is going to happen here.
The knowledge its missions gained is priceless.
A mission to Mars.
This is the gold standard.
The cost of exploration can be shockingly high.
It is no understatement that the mission could've ended in absolute disaster.
One thing is certain