Martian Mega Rover
Martian Mega Rover Premieres Thursday, August 9, 2012, at 10 p.m. ET/PT
(Washington D.C. – July 31, 2012) At 1:24 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, August 6, 2012, the Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. the Curiosity rover, is scheduled to hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 13,000 mph. Seven minutes later, the world will know whether it landed safely or punched a new crater in the surface of Mars.
Built to last years and do things on Mars that have never been done before, Curiosity has been hyped as rocket science on steroids. The $2.5 billion mega rover, boasts a nuclear power supply, is equipped with a full laboratory that can test samples for organic building blocks of life and can trek across miles of rugged terrain while beaming back to Earth images in high-definition 3-D. Weighing in at nearly a ton, five times heavier than its predecessors, Curiosity challenged its creators every step of the way, forcing a radical new approach to landing that makes the traditional “Seven Minutes of Terror” pale by comparison.
The National Geographic Channel (NGC) will premiere Martian Mega Rover on Thursday, August 9, at 10 p.m. E/PT, just three days after the historic touchdown is expected. The hour-long special includes incredible animation that breaks down each phase of the landing like a scene out of a blockbuster sci-fi movie. Created by Dan Maas, the acclaimed animator who did the IMAX “Roving Mars” and NGC’s Emmy winner Five Years on Mars, vivid photorealistic CGI simulates Curiosity’s entry into the atmosphere as a massive parachute deploys, rocket thrusters fire up and a sky crane safely lowers the rover to the ground. It all happens faster than the time it takes to send one radio command from Earth, so every step is preprogrammed and the rover is completely on its own, without any aid from NASA controllers.
With in-depth, behind-the-scenes access to the elaborate project — which took eight years from conception to touchdown — Martian Mega Rover also captures the gripping human drama behind every stage of this mission. Emmy award-winning producer Mark Davis spent years embedded with the engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., as they struggled with enormous technical setbacks that doubled the budget and delayed launch for two years, before they finally accomplished a scientific dream — the most sophisticated robot ever sent to another planet. He describes the experience: “The work these people do and the way they handle
pressure is the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen. It’s been a privilege to watch it happen it from the inside.”
Now, after years of testing, retesting and even more testing, the hard work of thousands of people will culminate during seven short minutes on August 6, 2012. Davis and NGC will be at JPL’s headquarters during the rover landing, documenting the sheer excitement of a monumental success or the utter disappointment of a crippling failure. Footage shot by Davis, combined with control room footage from JPL and NASA-TV, will be inserted into the final minutes of the Martian Mega Rover special, offering viewers a complete perspective of every phase of the project.
With original, high-fidelity CGI and unparalleled access behind the scenes, Martian Mega Rover offers a rare insight into the stomach-churning anxiety, despair and elation involved in delivering a $2.5 billion robot to another planet.
Preceding the premiere of Martian Mega Rover, NGC will also air an update to its award-winning documentary Five Years on Mars on Thursday, August 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Now called Eight Years on Mars (wt), the special tells the story of NASA’s two original rovers, which were expected to last 90 days on the Martian surface. While one eventually sank in quicksand, the other is still rolling more than eight years later.
- Nasa Mystery As Martian ‘Find For The History Books’ Kept Secret… For Now (huffingtonpost.co.uk)
- Mars Mystery: Has Curiosity Rover Made Big Discovery? (space.com)
- Life on Mars? Curiosity rover stirs excitement – NEWS.com.au (news.com.au)
- Mars Rover Curiosity On the Move Again, With Rumors of a “Big” Discovery (webpronews.com)
- Curiosity team set to reveal ‘major discovery’ in Martian soil… just not yet (dailymail.co.uk)
- Support for Mars Base? (foxnews.com)
- Curiosity Rover’s Secret Historic Breakthrough? (youviewedblog.wordpress.com)
- Big news from Mars coming soon, maybe (boingboing.net)
- Mars Mystery: What HAS Curiosity Discovered? (news.discovery.com)
- Astronauts Could Survive Mars Radiation, Curiosity Rover Finds (space.com)