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Space exploration began with dreaming. Thousands of years of humans staring into the heavens and wondering, how did this begin? What else is out there? The earliest answers were given in myth and poetry. Now they are sought by space age technology. And while each mission increases our knowledge, it also leads our imagination further and further. How did life begin? Did it happen more than once in the universe? The answer may lie on Mars.
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Written by Jón Þór "Jónsi" Birgisson, Georg "Goggi" Hólm, Kjartan "Kjarri" Sveinsson, Orri Páll Dýrason
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Walt Disney Pictures produced the film I watched. In it, there is no Paul Newman introduction. And my impression is that there are multiple versions of this documentary.
At about forty minutes in length, the film gives a cursory, but highly interesting, overview of the Mars twin rovers. Interviews with NASA scientists and engineers, plus actual footage of the robots being made, comprise the first half. The narrator stresses the complexity of the technical work that went into the creation of Spirit and Opportunity.
But the best segment is near the middle, when superb animated effects help viewers visualize the various stages of the rover-in-tow spacecraft's seven-month journey to Mars, and especially the critical landing phase that carried the rovers safely to the surface, which involved split second timing and flawless execution.
Later, we get a quick look at the geologic work the rovers perform. And the panoramic views of the desolate plains of Mars are spectacular.
I just wish the film had been longer, and that we could have seen more images of Mars. One gets the feeling that for some reason the film was cut short, maybe because of budget constraints. The sheer quantity of data that Spirit and Opportunity have relayed back to us is amazing. And this wonderful scientific achievement merits a film of at least two, and preferably three, hours.
Even though it's brief and to some extent aimed at kids, "Roving Mars" still makes for worthwhile viewing by adults. Maybe eventually we'll get a documentary that does Spirit and Opportunity justice.
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