'Avatar' Director James Cameron Stars in NASA Videos
Filmmaker James Cameron, known for out-of-this-world science fiction movies like "Avatar" and "Aliens," gives a thumbs-up to NASA's earth science programs in a series of new videos.
The three videos mix scenes from Cameron's 2009 film "Avatar" — which returns to select theaters this weekend — with photos and data from NASA satellites to describe how NASA's Earth-science program has helped boost environmental awareness and exploration on our home planet.
"Avatar" is a largely computer-animated science fiction film about the tall, blue-skinned inhabitants of the lush moon Pandora, which orbits a gas giant planet light-years from Earth. With the help of a former U.S. Marine, the aliens fend of human explorers who are mining their world for a precious mineral.
"In 'Avatar,' we showed you a planet in peril," Cameron says in one of the spots, which began airing this week. "Here on Earth, our species is learning how to care for our home. NASA's eyes in space enable unparalleled insights into our planet's health."
"When NASA ventures into space, it remembers to keep a steady eye on home," Cameron explains in another video, each of which is about 75 seconds long. "Its fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites constantly reveals our whole planet: its remotest places, its mysteries and the powerful influence of humans."
The team-up of NASA and Cameron has deep roots that began long before "Avatar," despite its themes of environmental awareness, space exploration and alien life.
The filmmaker has served on the NASA Advisory Council, and met with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in January to discuss how to improve science education in the United States and engage the public in scientific exploration.
Cameron has also spearheaded an effort to add a 3-D camera for Mars to NASA's next rover — the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity — before it launches toward the Red Planet in 2011.