National Geographic’s scripted/unscripted hybrid series Mars gives viewers both a real and dramatized quest to colonize the planet. The combination present-day documentary and scripted look at the future is what director Everard Gout described as a process in which “one hand fits in the other in terms of the knowledge and in terms of the emotion.” “It’s electrical” he added, “because you have that level of truthfulness on the documentary side but you also have an equal amount of beauty and truthfulness on the scripted side. It’s a very visceral experience.”

From Academy Award and Emmy-winning producers Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Michael Rosenberg of Imagine Entertainment; and Academy Award- Nominated and Emmy-winning producer Justin Wilkes and Dave O’Connor of Radical Media, the show aims to provide deep insight on historical moments, such as when Space X successfully landed its first reusable rocket. “Instead of science fiction, its science fact. Everything that you are seeing is real,” said Wilkes. “We were embedded in places like Space X and Nasa, and we hear from our big thinker giving content,” he said about the show’s effort to keep things authentic.

Why is Mars exploration is so important? According to Andy Weir, author of The Martian, “the reason why we want to go to Mars now is because we want to learn how to send humans to Mars. Right now,  every human being is on earth, if there is a catastrophe, our species can clearly be wiped out. 65 million years ago there was a meteor strike that killed everything that didn’t burrow. 70 thousand years ago there was a super volcano that killed all but 10,000 humans. If mankind has two planets and if we have a self sufficient population on another planet, then our odds of extinction will drop to nearly zero.”

Stephen Petranek, author of the book How We’ll Live on Mars that inspired the series, offered the same sentiments. “We all have to face a certain reality, eventually our sun is going to die and consume the earth. Human beings will go extinct if you do not become a multi-planet and space bearing society,” he says. “And frankly, Mars isn’t the answer, Mars is just a stepping stone. We have to learn how to get out of this solar system and find another earth like solar system and that could be light years away.”

Also in attendance during the panel discussion were Ben Cotton (Ben Sawyer), Jihae (Hana Seung and Joon Seung), Sammi Rotibi (Robert Foucault), Clementine Poidatz (Amelie Durand), Anamaria Marinca (Marta Kamen), Olivier Martinez (Ed Grann),  Dr. Mae Jamison (Astronaut and MARS Consultant), Dr. Robert D. Braun (Professor of Space Technology and MARS Consulting Scientist)

The series is set to premiere in November.