James Cameron Discusses Sending 3-D Cameras (And People) To Mars

'I want to make films about this and get people excited about [space] exploration,' the 'Avatar' director says.

For Oscar-winning director James Cameron, whose box-office clout at this point seems unmatchable, making mega-blockbusters like “Avatar” and “Titanic” might not be enough. So next year, Cameron is taking his filmmaking expertise to the final frontier.

In April, it was announced that Cameron had partnered with NASA to help build a 3-D camera mounted atop the Mars rover Curiosity for a mission planned for launch next year. When MTV News caught up with the filmmaker, we asked if, in addition to sending 3-D cameras to Mars, he’s thinking about how to send humans there.

“Oh, yeah, I’ve been thinking about the issues of sending human beings to Mars for a long time,” he admitted during a press day for the re-release of “Avatar.” “I started 11 years ago working on a Mars project that led me to doing a lot of research, meeting a lot of people at NASA, getting involved with people, and then at a certain point, a couple years ago, they said, ‘Wait a minute, this guy knows a lot about Mars, he knows a lot about 3-D cameras, zoom lenses, motion photography, all the things we’re incorporating into this new camera system. Why don’t we bring him in?’ ”

Cameron said one thing led to another, and suddenly, a partnership was born. “I’m actually on the team developing the new camera for the Mars Science Laboratory, which launches next year,” he said, adding that if all goes well, we could see 3-D photos of the red planet in the very near future.

“Theoretically, we will have a motion-image stereoscopic camera on the surface of Mars in 2011, and it will be making the first 3-D movie on Mars — well, it’s not a movie, but we’ll be taking 3-D shots.”

As for humans making the trip, Cameron added that it will require a couple of things — namely, a shift in our national interest.

“The public has to want it — that’s number one — because it has to be paid for. I think commercial, new, lean enterprises like [PayPal co-founder] Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, which is going to be creating human transportation to the space station. They’re a good candidate to build the systems that could get us to Mars, for example,” he said. “But it still requires the national will, and right now, that national will, quite frankly, isn’t up to the task. People don’t care about it enough, which is why I want to make films about this and get people excited about exploration.”

Cameron ended his thoughts with a question for the public: “Frankly, what would you rather spend your money on: pointless wars in the Middle East to support our oil addiction or going to another planet?”

What do you think about Cameron’s involvement with NASA and space exploration? Let us know in the comments!

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