Welcome to Mars

2005, Science  -   18 Comments
Ratings: 8.27/10 from 15 users.

Welcome to MarsOn January 3, 2004, a compact rover named Spirit, cushioned inside a pyramid of balloons, hurtled through the martian atmosphere and crash-landed on the dusty surface of Mars. Minutes later, Spirit sent its first message home. The elation of the assembled scientists, along with the much more involved engineering story leading up to the landing, were captured by NOVA producer Mark Davis in his popular documentary Mars, Dead or Alive. That elation is the starting point for the sequel, Welcome to Mars.

Welcome to Mars follows the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity from the second they crash-land on the planet to many months into their ongoing mission. Davis covered the story from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as it unfolded and provided a unique, behind-the-scenes take on this voyage of discovery, whose primary goal is to find evidence that liquid water once existed on Mars.

The mission has had its share of drama. The first two weeks after Spirit's landing were euphoric, with fantastic new images arriving every day. But just a few weeks into its mission, Spirit suddenly went silent... and then, inexplicably, started spewing gibberish. For three agonizing days Spirit's engineers worked around the clock, trying to regain control of the unhinged rover. In the darkest hour, many feared that Spirit was doomed. Then, just hours before Opportunity began its own fiery plunge to the surface of Mars, engineers finally discovered the problem—a simple memory overload—and saved Spirit from an early death.

The unfolding science has been equally compelling. With Spirit back up and running, the scientists turned their attention to the arrival of its twin, Opportunity. After tearing through the martian sky and bouncing on the surface for several minutes, Opportunity rolled into a small, shallow crater at the site called Meridiani. Early the next day, the first color postcard arrived, and the scientists were stunned to see an outcrop of layered bedrock just a few yards away. Bedrock is the holy grail of geologists, holding an unambiguous record of geological history. This was the first martian bedrock ever photographed at close range.

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18 Comments / User Reviews

  1. marty

    Mars is crawling with aliens..

  2. Raptor jones

    schwarzenegger at 15:34 No doubt looking for mutants

  3. Kahina

    I remember getting up at 3am just to watch the mission control broadcast of their landing. When the first one landed I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. What do you think? Greatest NASA mission of all time?

  4. El Mastapha

    but no live in mars

  5. El Mastapha

    good job

  6. The_Eh_Team

    i think cosmic rays would be a major problem to contend with.

  7. oatstao

    Ok, well, no one has mentioned the most obvious and
    direct reason they are scouring other planets.
    It comes down to not Living there , but living comforatably from what they find there. That's the SOLE reason. MINING-excavating
    extracting,panning. the robot does that on a basic level.

    It's all in the history and will continue if you let it.
    They are pirates who rape any land.

    1. Kahina

      Unlikely. Transporting the haul back to Earth would be too costly not to mention it would take decades to develop the technology to do it.

  8. Tigerspaw

    Old but way cool Doc.
    August 2010 and there still ruining, way longer that the original 90 days

  9. Greywall

    The question is 'Would Mars be surviving when Sun dies and becomes a white dwraf? May be real survival would only depend upon finding of living conditions on some planet in some other solar system.

    This website is really eyes and mind opener and a treasureland for knowledge seekers around the world. Love it.

  10. boobo

    There is oxygen in water.

  11. Solomon S. Buyco

    Welcome to the future of Earth! Yetis will reign...as the Sun dies down.

  12. Ari

    Our future is in space ;-) but our future is on earth too..
    I envy the future humans that will be living in a couple of hundred years or something.. that is a time I realy wanted too be at

  13. Nyax

    Finding water on Mars could lead to new discoveries regarding the planet's past and the possibility of Life outside our world, or at the very least about water on other planets.

  14. Achems Razor

    @ Carpenter:

    There is a point. I'm not trying to knock your viewpoints, but if the human race did not start somewhere we would not have nothing!

    Through out history the naysayers said it could not be done,
    from the Wright bros. and up.

    We certainly will not be able to live on Mars, maybe in a thousand years, but it is a stepping stone to the future.

    I am convinced we are destined to space, as Star Trek says, the final frontier.

    The human race will never stop new endeavors, that is the nature of human existence.

    If Aliens can do it, why not we? (LOL)

  15. carpenter

    Great Doc ! pros to these guys/gals for putting that much work into this mission but I just don't see the point, even if we find water then what? how about oxygen? Its not like we can grow food on these planets. We can never live anywhere else other than earth.

  16. Solomon S. Buyco

    I'm interested in the history of the "blueberries" that is common to all areas... :o)

    North pole of Mars is a promising area for water...

  17. Achems Razor

    Good Doc.

    love these types of Doc's.