27 November 2018

    Drew Hook

    Red Planet Day: The best Mars media 🔴

    At Vodacom we love all things red and are thrilled to be celebrating Red Planet Day (28th November) with similarly red-obsessed people.

    At Vodacom we love all things red and are thrilled to be celebrating Red Planet Day with similarly red-obsessed people. Red Planet day is the unofficial commemoration of the launch of the Mariner 4 satellite on 28 November 1964, a robotic interplanetary probe which was to become the first spacecraft to fly past Mars. To celebrate this event we have compiled a list of books, movies and games to inspire you about our place in the solar system, and marvel at the very real possibility that humans will soon go to Mars.


    • War of the Worlds (HG Wells): Trust us, the book is better than the movie. It has been credited for inspiring the invention of technology that saw the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and it’s one of the earliest stories about humans interacting with an extraterrestrial species.

    • The Martian (Andy Weir): A manned mission to Mars goes horribly wrong, and one man is left behind. He survives despite a bad potato crop. Read the book, then watch the movie – both are brilliant.

    • The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury): A collection of short stories about humans fleeing the Earth and settling on Mars, and how they almost wipe out the resident Martians. First published in 1950, the book is more a reflection on American values of the time.

    • The Princess of Mars (Edgar Rice Burroughs): The first book in the Barsoom series, American prospector John Carter finds himself transported to Mars in 1867 and immediately becomes embroiled in the political struggles of the various races and cultures of the red planet.

    • The Massacre of Mankind (Stephen Baxter): The official sequel to HG Wells' ‘War of the Worlds’, written by Stephen Baxter and released last year. TMoM sees the Martians return to earth 14 years after their failed first attempt, with greater numbers and more advanced technology.

    • Leviathan Wakes (James S.A Corey): Part one of the Expanse series, set in a future in which humanity has colonised much of the Solar System. Earth is governed by the United Nations and the Martian Congressional Republic, and they act as competing superpowers, maintaining an uneasy military alliance.

    • Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert A Heinlein): Tells the story of Valentine Michael Smith, a human who comes to Earth in early adulthood after being born on the planet Mars and raised by Martians.

    • Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration (Buzz Aldrin): The second man on the Moon outlines his plan for humans to be able to colonise Mars by the year 2035.

    • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2: Alan Moore’s take on the ‘Genesis of the superhero comic’ sees famous Victorian literary figures Captain Nemo, Doctor Jekyll/Mr Hyde and The Invisible Man (among others) take on the invading Martians from The War of the Worlds.

    Purchase these books on Google Play through your Vodacom account.

    Movies and series 

    • The Martian: Based on the excellent book by Andy Weir, and starring the potato-craving Matt Damon.

    • Total Recall: Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the leading role in this thrilling depiction of humanity’s first steps to become a multi-planetary species.

    • Mars Attacks!: Tim Burton’s homage to 1950s saucer flicks features skull-faced ‘invaders from Mars’ unleashing havoc across the world, and who can only be defeated by the melodic sounds of Slim Whitman’s song ‘Indian Love Call.’

    • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: Released in 2001, this Japanese animated space western revolves around an intrepid band of bounty hunters who land on Mars in the year 2071 chasing an enormous cash reward.

    • Life: Astronauts (including Jake Gyllenhaal) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars.

    • The Expanse: Hundreds of years in the future, things are different than what we are used to after humans have colonized the solar system and Mars has become an independent military power.  

    • Star Trek Discovery: The latest Star Trek tv show follows the crew of the USS Discovery as they encounter new worlds and civilizations, delving into familiar themes and expanding upon an incident that has been talked about within the franchise's universe, but never fully explored.

    • Mars: Combining feature film-quality scripted elements and visual effects with documentary-style interviews, the six-part miniseries `Mars' illuminates the peaks and valleys of a modern-day space race while dramatizing humanity's first harrowing attempt to colonize the distant planet

    Catch these great films and shows on Netflix or Showmax when you subscribe using your Vodacom account.



    • Doom: More than any other game, Doom is one of the most influential games in history. The lead character (we only ever see his hands and his guns) is posted to Mars as punishment for not following orders. Chaos ensues when monsters come say hi.

    • Faster than Light: In this top-down, spaceship simulator, the player controls the crew of a single spacecraft, holding critical information to be delivered to an allied fleet eight sectors away, while being pursued by a large rebel fleet.

    • Mass Effect: Bioware's landmark 2007 role-playing game was set in the not-too-distant future where humanity's move into space was jumpstarted by the discovery of highly advanced technology found on Mars.

    • No Man’s Sky: An entire universe is yours to explore, catalogue and name in No Man’s Sky. Procedurally generated planets offer literally thousands of different environments to investigate.

    • Surviving Mars: Surviving Mars is a sci-fi settlement builder all about colonizing Mars and surviving the process. Execute your strategy and improve your colony’s chances of survival while unlocking the mysteries of this alien world.

    Sign up to Google Play with your Vodacom account and download the best games for mobile.

    Science and Technology 

    • Mars Rovers: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory managed the Mars Pathfinder mission and currently manages the active Opportunity rover and inactive Spirit, and, as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, the Curiosity rover. You can keep up to date with their travels here.

    • SpaceX: Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, is working to send the first manned missions to Mars in 2024. 

    • Experimental Propulsion: For the approximately seven-month journey to Mars, using rocket fuel to propel a spacecraft requires a large gas tank that would be very expensive to launch off the ground. Instead, NASA might use the power of the Sun to send cargo, supplies, and maybe even astronauts to Mars. Solar electric propulsion doesn't provide the enormous thrust of rocket fuel. Instead it builds up speed slowly over time, eventually propelling the spacecraft at up to 200 000 miles per hour. And ion propulsion is very efficient too, using up to 10 times less propellant than rocket fuel.

    • Flexible spacesuits: New spacesuits will need to protect against Mars's damaging radiation and cold, thin atmosphere, while still allowing the astronauts to do their work. Today's spacesuits are a lot like balloons, making it hard to move around – especially the hands. But researchers are designing outfits that are easier to get around in. They may also incorporate augmented reality, self-healing materials, and interwoven bio-monitors. NASA plans to test a next-gen spacesuit when it sends astronauts to rendezvous with a boulder during the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

    Drew Hook