Behind the scenes of National Geographic's series on Mars

The second season of National Geographic's Mars includes insight from tech experts such as Elon Musk and author Stephen Petranek.

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If you've ever wondered what it would be like to live on Mars, the newest season of National Geographic's Mars focuses on the impact that human residents will have on the red planet and vice versa.

The series is a combination of a documentary and science fiction. Co-executive producer Stephen Petranek authored How We'll Live on Mars, upon which the fictional series is based.

"It's as accurate as we can possibly make it. There's a little guesswork involved because we're looking into the 2040s here. Almost all of the technology that we need to get to Mars and to live successfully on Mars, we've had since the 1970s. We're not reinventing the wheel here," Petranek said.

The first season debuted in 2016 and was set in 2033. Season 2 will jump six years into the future to show how life is evolving for residents on Mars.

SEE: Photos: National Geographic shows what life could be like on Mars (TechRepublic)

Petranek said it's natural to want to explore Mars and what life would be like on the red planet, which sits 250 million miles away from Earth: "The reason we want to go to Mars is that we are a nomadic species and we have to stay a nomadic species and we have to become an interplanetary species, not just in this solar system, but in other solar systems as well because nothing is permanent in this universe. There are the births of stars and the creations of planners and then the deaths of stars and the destruction of planets. If humans want to survive as a species in this universe, we are going to have to learn how to get off this planet and go somewhere else. Then we're going to have to learn how to get off of that place and go somewhere else as well."

Life on Mars is always the subject of speculation, since it's never been done. "NASA doesn't really officially have any plans to go to Mars, other than to possibly orbit it with humans in the 2030s. Both the Chinese and the Russians say that they're going to build permanent bases on Mars. I suspect we are going to as well. Elon Musk has created a company called SpaceX, the second private rocket company after Orbital Sciences, and has become very successful. That company was established for one single purpose, which is to create a sustainable civilization on Mars. In other words, not to go visit but to go there and live," Petranek said.

By the 2020's, it will take about eight months to travel to Mars, based on conventional rocketry and what's being designed for the near future. By 2050, this will be reduced to around four or five months, Petranek said.

Living on Mars is essential to human survival, he said. "I see Mars very much as a stepping stone to a very long distance future for humanity where we actually learn to survive in another environment, this time within our own solar system. Eventually, I think we will also find other Earth-like planets that are not an unreasonable distance from our solar system that we can survive even more vigorously on."

The series, which was created by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, uses experts to share knowledge on what life on Mars would be like. These experts include Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX; Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and futurist; Ellen Stofan, former NASA chief; and author Jared Diamond.

The six-episode second season of Mars debuts on the National Geographic channel on Nov. 12 at 9 pm ET.

Also see

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Episode 206 of Mars.

Image: National Geographic/Dusan Martincek