The great PBS science series Nova scores another hit with Mars: Dead or Alive, capturing all the excitement surrounding the Mars rover landings of early 2004.
Originally broadcast as the first of the twin rovers (“Spirit” and “Opportunity”) was experiencing temporary problems of communication with mission controllers Land of wheels, this fascinating hour-long episode chronicles the risky 820,000. $ 000
Mars Exploration Rover (MER) project from design to touchdown, dramatically illustrating (through the use of detailed simulations and sophisticated computer animation) the considerable chances of failure-a nail-biting game considering never fully two-thirds of all previous Mars missions reached their destination.
Through rigorous testing and initial failure of the MER parachute system to the transmission of photos celebrating the landing site pristine “Spirit”, we see how intensely complex and emotionally involving the missions, especially for an astronomer at Cornell University chief scientist Steve Squyres and MER and his dedicated team of colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
The races are on the line as technical problems accumulate, and you feel the same mixture of fear, anxiety and euphoria that accompanied the historic return of Apollo 13. A bonus interview with the Mars mission pioneer Donna Shirley puts everything into perspective resonance, celebrating science and the MER missions as an essential human activity.