Jan 04, 2005
Season 32 Episode 9
Go inside mission control and explore Mars with rovers Spirit & Opportunity. On January 3, 2004, a rover named Spirit crash-landed on the surface of Mars and sent its first message home. The elation of the assembled scientists as well as the engineering story leading up to the landing were captured by NOVA in its popular documentary "MARS Dead or Alive." That elation is the starting point for the sequel, "Welcome to Mars," which follows the adventures of Spirit and Opportunity on the Red Planet. NOVA's producers enjoyed unprecedented access to the mission scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as they wrestled with the technical crises that soon beset the rovers. All goes well until Spirit suddenly falls silent and then, inexplicably, starts spewing gibberish. For three agonizing days the engineers struggle to regain control of the unhinged rover before they finally solve the problem. Then Opportunity lands and sends back the image of an outcrop of bedrock just a few yards away. The rock turns out to be a crucial clue in the quest to discover if there was once water and life on Mars. Eventually, the evidence adds up, and after 40 years of speculation, NASA finally announces solid proof that Mars was once awash in water. "Welcome to Mars" presents a compelling inside story of triumph and technical ingenuity, with stunning fresh images from an alien world.