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HI-SEAS Mars Habitat in Hawaii

As space exploration efforts around the world focus more and more on mounting a manned mission to Mars, Xploration Station’s latest #StudentAstronaut contest offers America’s top STEM students the chance to join the action. The contest, now in its third year, allows college students to compete for an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii to train for a journey to Mars alongside Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calandrelli. Students should apply by posting their video submissions to the Xploration Station Facebook page by Sunday, May 28. Xploration Station is a three-hour block of STEM programming for teens and their families airing weekend mornings primarily on Fox TV Stations in more than 100 million homes nationwide.

“Mars is the next major frontier for crewed space exploration,” said Calandrelli, who received a Daytime Emmy nomination this year for her work on Xploration Outer Space. “By centering this year’s contest around such an ambitious mission, we hope to really inspire and encourage those young people who will actually make it happen!”

The contest winner will travel to Hawaii and stay overnight at HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation), which replicates the experience of daily life on Mars. The winner will also operate rovers alongside the experts at PISCES (Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems) and the NASA Robotic Mining Competition Team Vulcan at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, as well as visit the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, located on the summit of Maunakea.

Students 18-years and older can submit to the contest by creating a video no longer than three minutes that answers why it is important to explore Mars, how this experience would help launch their careers in the space industry, and why they should be selected as the next Student Astronaut. Students should post these videos to the Xploration Station Facebook page with the hashtag #StudentAstronaut.

“Our Student Astronaut contest is one of my favorite things about this business,” said Steve Rotfeld, president of Steve Rotfeld Productions, which produces Xploration Station. “These kids are so incredibly impressive, it can’t help but make us optimistic about the future.”

This year’s #StudentAstronaut was announced on April 24, just one day after submissons closed for the first ever #StudentExplorer contest. The competition gave high school and college students the chance to accompany Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau and host of Xploration Awesome Planet, on an underwater voyage to study whale sharks off the coast of Mexico.

Xploration Station comprises six series in total: Cousteau’s Xploration Awesome Planet, Calandrelli’s Xploration Outer Space, artist and futurist Chuck Pell’s Xploration Earth 2050Youtube star Steve Spangler’s DIY Sci, marine biologist Danni Washington’s Nature Knows Best, and Weird but True, hosted by Charlie and Kirby Engleman, produced in partnership with Nat Geo Kids.

Learn more about the #StudentAstronaut contest, including full contest terms and conditions, and catch up with Xploration Station by streaming all six series on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Yahoo View, and Roku.


During its inspiring upfront presentation on Wednesday evening, National Geographic presented its ambitious 2017-18 slate of premium, groundbreaking content. The “Further Front,” which was hosted at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, included the presentation of seven new unscripted series, one new scripted series, three feature documentaries and a number of returning series.

“In our industry, we are all in the business of ideas and storytelling,” said 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch in his opening remarks. “We believe Nat Geo’s distinction in the media landscape of storytellers is that its stories are driven by purpose. Fueled by the authenticity and excellence of our partners – photographers and explorers who work tirelessly to challenge our perspectives – Nat Geo inspires and connects people, and opens our eyes wide to science and the natural world.”

National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe reflected on the network’s far-reaching programming the past year, including “MARS,” “Before the Flood,” “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric,” “The Story of God With Morgan Freeman” and “Genius,” which premieres April 25.

“In a word, we’ve gone further: further to entertain you further to captivate you and further to elevate our brand of creatively ambitious premium programming,” she said before presenting National Geographic’s slate of 2017-18 content.

National Geographic’s 2017-18 upfront slate includes “Race,” a new unscripted series from Shawn Carter (Jay Z) and The Weinstein Company; a new six-part documentary series from Katie Couric; “The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman,” an expansion of the Emmy-nominated “The Story of God”; a new Dr. Jane Goodall biopic; and the return of “Genius,” “MARS,” “Explorer” and “StarTalk With Neil deGrasse Tyson.”

To end the presentation, National Geographic EVP for Sales and Partnerships Brendan Ripp spoke with National Geographic Photography Fellow Cory Richards via a live Skype feed. Cory, who was about to begin his second trip up Mount Everest, was asked to share what the National Geographic brand means to him: “National Geographic really represents the investment in the planet, the future of the planet and the future of the human family. We have to look further beyond ourselves to see how integrated we are and how connected all of this is. Using our exploration, education and storytelling to bring that together hopefully inspires the rest of the world to care the same way we do.”

Yesterday, National Geographic also announced three new scripted development projects; “Earth Live,” a two-hour live broadcast hosted by Jane Lynch; The National Geographic Further Community, a new digital venture; and Nat Geo WILD’s 2017-18 upfront slate.

Read more about National Geographic’s Further Front announcements, and see more photos from the event here.

Cory Richards, National Geographic photographer


National Geographic, Gender Revolution

National Geographic was named a 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist in Explanatory Reporting for its groundbreaking “Gender” magazine issue and the accompanying digital and video work. The Pulitzer Prize Board explained that National Geographic was named a finalist in this category “For a deep and sensitive exploration of gender worldwide, using remarkable photography, moving video and clear writing to illuminate a subject that is at once familiar and misunderstood.”

National Geographic Partners CEO Declan Moore congratulated National Geographic magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg and the editorial staff for the accomplishment in an internal memo yesterday: “The Pulitzer Prizes honor the very best in journalism and the arts, and there is certainly no tougher competition, nor higher achievement, in the industry. To be named a finalist is a tremendous accomplishment and reflects the outstanding work and collaboration of the editorial staff. It is also a testament to Susan’s fearless leadership and her dedication to thoughtful, courageous storytelling that is taking National Geographic from reverence to relevance.”

This marked the first time National Geographic was able to submit for all Pulitzer Prize categories.


xploration-station-philippe-cousteau-water-voyage

Xploration Station, Fox TV Stations’ three-hour block of STEM programming for teens and their families, has announced its first #StudentExplorer Contest, giving high school and college students across the U.S. the chance to explore the world with Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau and host of the Xploration Station series Xploration Awesome Planet. The contest winner will accompany Cousteau on an underwater voyage to locate and study whale sharks off the coast of Mexico. Students can apply by posting video entries to the Xploration Station Facebook page, which will accept submissions until Sunday, April 23.

“This is a unique opportunity to engage students in a real world experience that promotes both STEM and ocean conservation,” said Steve Rotfeld, president of Steve Rotfeld Productions, which produces all six series that compose the Xploration Station block. “We believe that contests like this can inspire those interested in pursuing careers in science.”

Students between 16 and 22 years old can apply by posting a video of up to three minutes long to the Xploration Station Facebook page. The video should explain why it is important to explore and understand how the planet works, how the underwater expedition would make them better explorers and citizens of Earth, and why they should be selected as the first ever #StudentExplorer. The winner will be announced on Facebook shortly after the April 23 deadline.

This is the third consecutive year Xploration Station has given young people enthusiastic about science and exploration the chance to pursue their interests through a hands-on learning experience. In previous years, the #StudentAstronaut Contest, which debuted during Xploration Station’s premiere season, allowed contest winners to train like an astronaut alongside Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calendrelli, a Harvard scholar and former NASA scientist.

Xploration Station comprises six series in total: Cousteau’s Xploration Awesome Planet, Calandrelli’s Xploration Outer Space, artist and futurist Chuck Pell’s Xploration Earth 2050Youtube star Steve Spangler’s DIY Sci, marine biologist Danni Washington’s Nature Knows Best, and Weird but True, hosted by Charlie and Kirby Engleman, produced in partnership with Nat Geo Kids.

Many of these series were recently nominated for this year’s Daytime Emmy Awards, and Fox TV Stations recently extended Xploration Station’s run through 2020. The entire block airs in more than 100 million homes nationwide on Saturday mornings and is available to stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Yahoo View, and Roku.

Learn more about the #StudentAstronaut contest, including full contest terms and conditions, and watch the video below:


Anand Varma, National Geographic photographer

In partnership with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India, National Geographic photographers helped organize and lead a workshop for early career biologists interested in sharing their work through photography. The Shoot for Science workshop, funded by National Geographic Society and run by science photographers Anand Varma and Prasenjeet Yadav, ran for 8 days at NCBS in February 2017 and brought together a cohort of 16 Indian research fellows, Ph.D. candidates, and post-docs to study the art of storytelling in science.

India is currently undergoing increased investment in science and technology, providing a timely opportunity for scientists to communicate their research not just with the academic world, but with the greater public as well. By reducing focus on standard technical jargon and exploring other forms of communication, scientists can demystify their work for a wider audience and inspire young students to embrace scientific literacy. Photography is unique in its ability to help scientists both collect and communicate their data, and doing so without misrepresenting the scientific process lies at the core of Varma and Yadav’s workshop mission.

Using cameras and other equipment provided by Nikon, the 16 participants worked in groups to develop and create a photo narrative around research done by scientists at NCBS. They learned various techniques in basic photography and controlled lighting, received feedback in photo editing sessions, heard from Nat Geo experts, and gave final presentations after being coached in public speaking. “It was a great learning experience. Starting from how to think of communicating a story to how to use a camera—it was all new to me,” said participant Ipsa Jain, a Ph.D. candidate in cellular biology at the Indian Institute of Sciences.

Varma is a regular contributor to Nat Geo; his work tells the story behind the science of everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian disease and forest ecology. Yadav is a trained molecular ecologist turned science-photographer who combines his research experience and photography skills to tell stories of exploration and conservation. He’s represented by National Geographic Creative and is currently producing a story on how mountains play a role in special evolution in India’s Western Ghats. Together, they hope to create a consortium of scientific storytellers in India and are working to expand the Shoot for Science program across the country in the coming years.