What The Antarctic Teaches Us About The Science of Space Exploration




  • Producer Dallas Rogers
  • What The Antarctic Teaches Us About The Science Of Space Exploration

It’s 2026 and you are on board the Ares. The largest interplanetary spacecraft ever built. You are on the first colonial voyage to Mars and your crew will be the first hundred Martian colonisers.

This is how Kim Stanley Robinson opens his award-winning science fiction Mars trilogy – a set of three books about the colonial settlement of Mars. For Associate Professor Juan Francisco Salazar, this science fiction series opens up some important philosophical questions about what we think were doing as we colonise Antarctica and beyond.

In 2015 he release a documentary film based on ethnographic research undertaken in the Antarctic. The documentary is a speculative piece that sits at the intersections between science and social science. In this episode, he talks about his research and film making.  Along the way, he raises questions about what we, as humans think we are doing in Antarctica. He says our actions in places like Antarctica tell us much about how we might act in the future when we set out to colonise other planets.


 Juan Francisco Salazar is an anthropologist and media scholar and practitioner. He currently holds an Associate Professor position in communication and media studies at the School of Humanities and Communication Arts and has been a member of the Institute for Culture and Society since 2006. His research interests and expertise centre on media anthropology; visual/digital ethnographies; citizens’ media; Indigenous media and communication rights in Chile and Latin America; documentary cinemas; environmental communication; climate change; future studies; cultural studies of Antarctica.

He is a co-author of the book Screen media arts: introduction to concepts and practices (Oxford University Press), which was awarded the Australian Educational Publishing Award 2009 for best book in the Teaching and Learning Category. As a media artist, he has produced several documentary and experimental short films exhibited internationally and has been a digital storytelling trainer and producer in Australia, Chile and Antarctica. His 2015 documentary film is Nightfall on Gaia.


Audio Blocks


Photograph of Mars: Hubble Space Telescope 2003