Product DetailsThis PBS Explorer Collection includes: Mars: Dead or Alive (NOVA), Welcome to Mars (NOVA), Is There Life on Mars? (NOVA) and Can We Make it to Mars? (NOVA scienceNOW). Mars: Dead or Alive 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 just as the first of the twin rovers ("Spirit" and "Opportunity") was experiencing temporary communication problems with Earth-bound mission controllers, this riveting hour-long episode chronicles the risky $820 million 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 gamble considering that fully two-thirds of all previous Mars missions never reached their destination. Through rigorous testing and initial failure of the MER parachute system to the celebrated transmission of pristine photos from the "Spirit" landing site, we see just how intensely complex and emotionally involving the missions are, especially for Cornell University astronomer and lead MER scientist Steve Squyres and his devoted team of colleagues at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Careers are on the line as technical problems accumulate, and one feels the same mixture of dread, anxiety, and elation that accompanied the historic return of Apollo 13. A bonus interview with Mars-mission pioneer Donna Shirley puts everything into resonant perspective, celebrating science and the MER missions as an essential human endeavor. As with all Nova programs, the DVD includes a generous variety of study materials including an interview with Squyres, a detailed look at the anatomy of the Mars rovers, links to a companion website, and a "math activity" feature allowing viewers to understand the aerodynamic variables of parachute design. If you're among those who feel that NASA and MER tax dollars are wasted, this DVD will probably change your opinion. Welcome to Mars Go inside mission control and explore Mars with rovers Spirit & Opportunity. Take an astounding look at the red planet in this interplanetary adventure that picks up where the acclaimed film MARS Dead or Alive left off. From the white-knuckle landings of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, through months of frustrating setbacks and elating discoveries, Welcome to Mars captures the gripping drama and the breathtaking images of the most significant mission events. Mission Control and its two robotic explorers face a daunting task–find proof that liquid water, the essential ingredient of life, once existed on Mars. Just days into the mission, euphoria turns to despair as Spirit suddenly stops communicating with NASA. With the mission on the line, restoring communications with the rover becomes a nerve-shredding ordeal before the problem is solved. Then, Opportunity serendipitously lands near a scientifically valuable rock outcrop that provides crucial evidence allowing NASA to announce solid proof that Mars was once awash in water. Through unprecedented access, Welcome to Mars presents a compelling inside story of triumph, technical ingenuity, and emotional drama packed with stunning images from an alien world. Special DVD features include: materials and activities for educators; a link to the NOVA Web site; scene selections; closed captions; and described video for the visually impaired. Is There Life on Mars Four years after they landed on Mars, NASA s twin robot explorers, Spirit and Opportunity, have lasted 16 times longer and driven 20 times farther than expected. Today they are joined by an aerial armada of hi-tech satellites, surveying Mars from orbit to reconstruct the planet s mysterious history. And on May 25, 2008, they also got company on the ground: NASA s Phoenix probe. NOVA s Is There Life on Mars? showcases the latest scientific revelations from a planet, once alien, now poised to reveal provocative new clues in the tantalizing quest to plumb its past for signs of water and, perhaps, even life. Can We Make it to Mars Host Neil deGrasse Tyson will tackle one of science s major challenges in each episode, framed as a simple question that ordinary people wonder and worry about. Neil will guide us as he explores dramatic discoveries and the frontiers of research that connect each central, provocative mystery. Episode includes: 1) Space Dangers - Can we protect Mars-bound astronauts from deadly meteroids and the ill effects of radiation and zero gravity? 2) Next-Generation Space Suits - Today s suits are notoriously bulky. MIT s Dava Newman is out to change that with a radical, and sleek, new design. 3) Space Food - How do you keep food fresh on a three-year round-trip to Mars? NASA scientist-chefs are cooking up some ideas. 4) Plasma Rockets - With a small sun for an engine, a new rocket might be able to zip us to Mars and back in under three months. 5) Profile: Vandi Verma - A daredevil engineer born in India now drives the Mars rovers.
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