One of the things I looked forward to the most during my adventures at San Diego Comic Con this year was my last interview of the week, which took place Saturday night during National Geographic’s “Nerd Night” event where they were promoting their existing show ‘Mars’ (which is coming back for Season 2) and their new show launching this year, ‘One Strange Rock.’ Amid a rooftop decked out with projectors shining images of the Earth and Mars onto nearby buildings and handing out drinks with red and blue food coloring asking people to choose which side they were, team Red Planet or Blue Planet, I had the opportunity to interview Astronaut Jeff Hoffman, who would be hosting an episode of ‘One Strange Rock’ during its first season.
Dr. Hoffman is an accomplished man indeed, and yet for all of his brilliance, awards, the fact that he had been to space many times over his 29 years working with NASA (1978-1997), and the fact that even now he is a Professor at MIT, he seemed like a really cool, down to Earth guy (no pun intended). In fact, he even started off the interview by asking our hosts for a beer, and proceeded to talk casually with us about the new series and his part on it. While speaking on the show, Dr. Hoffman explained the concept as he saw it, that the show was going to focus on “looking at this ‘one strange rock’ and what makes it so unique and able to support life.” He in particular stressed that fact that Earth not only supports us but also protects us, and expressed that the show would take the time to explain some of the ways it does that. Every episode will have a different host focusing on a different aspect of Planet Earth and delving into the science of the world we live on, with Dr. Hoffman being one of a number of Astronauts who will be on the show this season. He seemed particularly enthusiastic about all of the different scientific minds who will be featured on the series, stating:
“I’ve never seen a show that has looked at the Earth with as many different perspectives.”
When I asked him whether he had been nervous about hosting an episode, he told me that he had “been doing TV stuff for decades” with NASA, and that “it always came pretty naturally,” which of course makes him an even more impressive individual, though I suppose after going to space appearing on TV really would not seem that daunting. The conversation eventually led to talk about eventual human habitation of Mars, which he does see in the future, though he does not believe we will be able to terraform Mars to make it exactly like Earth as science-fiction writers often claim, instead asserting that we will be living in pressurized environments on Mars with self-contained atmospheres. When asked whether Mars was worth the effort he said that it definitely was, as Mars has a lot of resources that could be used.
The interview/conversation was everything I had hoped for and then some, and I know I will be tuning in to see Dr. Hoffman’s appearance on ‘One Strange Rock’ this season, as well check out the rest of the series which he so enthusiastically recommended.