By Karen Morfitt

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) -The National Geographic channel is spotlighting the red planet in the television series ‘MARS’ and enlisting the help of experts from the University of Colorado Boulder. Robert Braun is the Dean of the school’s college of engineering and a technical consultant for the show.

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(credit: National Geographic)

“It’s a docu-drama. It goes back and forth between present day events in which the space program is featured, and then it flashes forward to the future to show how those things fit in to human exploration of MARS,” he said.

Braun, a former NASA researcher knows a thing or two about the planet having played roles in five different missions to Mars.

(credit: National Geographic)

“I have been working with the writers and the producers, the script designers, and I’m one of the people who tries to make sure the depiction of the future is as accurate as possible.”

(credit: CBS)

Tuesday night, National Geographic held a special screening of the latest episode in the series for the students and staff on campus. CU sophomore Michelle Lin was among those who showed up.

“My dad, when I was growing up, used to tell me I was from Mars, and I was destined to return there,” she laughed.

(credit: National Geographic)

Lin says that is where her interest in space exploration got started.

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“I’ve always kind of set my sights on Mars since I was growing up. It would be really cool to actually be there some day,” she said.

Both Lin and her friend Alex St. Claire are now preparing for careers in the aerospace industry.

“I think people don’t necessarily realize how close we are to being at Mars,” St. Claire said.

Tuesday, their lesson came from that never before seen episode.

(credit: National Geographic)

“It’s really fun to see shows portray Mars in a realistic way,” he said. “Nice to see and allows you to suspend disbelief more fully.”

(credit: CBS)

That authenticity intertwined with a touch of Hollywood and the hope is that everyone will better understand the research and our future on Mars.

MARS airs Monday’s at 9 p.m. on National Geographic.

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Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.