NOVA: Is There Life on Mars?
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NASAs twin robot explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, have lasted for more than 4 years on Mars. And since May 25, 2008, theyve had company: NASAs Phoenix probe, which dramatically tasted water ice on the planet in July. This NOVA showcases the latest scientific results from the rovers and Phoenix, which are poised to reveal provocative new clues in the tantalizing search for water and life on the Red Planet.
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"Is there life beyond Earth? To find out, we might not look no further than the planet next door. Mars may be our best hope for reaching the ultimate mystery...Mars has much in common with our world than any place we know of in the universe. But its still a world away. Getting an astronaut there to search for life is beyond us. So for now we must resort to the next best thing...robots...Mars today is a busy place. Three [human-made] satellites orbit it. Three [human-made explorers] ponder its surface [as of the making of this DVD, the twin rovers Spirit & Opportunity and the Phoenix Lander]. They're finding a wealth of clues...But they're also discovering that, in its past, Mars has some dark secrets...Four and a half billion years ago, two young planets [Earth and Mars] emerged, both brimming with promise. But something went wrong with Earth's twin. Is there life on Mars?"
The above comes from the introduction of this extremely informative documentary.
The narration of this documentary is interspersed with the comments of scientists and mission specialists. And the computer graphics are in a word--fantastic.
I personally learned quite a lot from this program. As a bonus, this program concentrates only on the essentials and does not overwhelm or bore the viewer.
On the front of the DVD case, there is a subtitle that says "Reports from the Phoenix Lander." This gives the impression that this program is only about this lander. Actually, there is only one very interesting chapter that discusses this lander and it eye-opening discoveries.
(The Phoenix was launched from Earth on Aug 4, 2007 and landed on Mars May 25, 2008, a ten-month trip. As well, 39 probes have been sent to Mars, this is the seventh to make it.)
The only problem I had was with the second-last sentence of the above quotation. Mars is not "Earth's twin." The planet Venus is.
Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 2009) is perfect in video and audio. It has two extras. It is also closed-captioned.
In conclusion, this is quite an informative documentary. Discover for yourself why NASA's mantra before the Phoenix mission was "follow the water" and why after the Phoenix mission it is "follow the organics!!"
(2008; 53 min; widescreen; 7 chapters; made for TV (NOVA))
<<Stephen Pletko, London, Ontario, Canada>>