When you consider the odds against
success, the achievements on glorious display in Roving Mars are
This excellent production follows
the familiar IMAX format; at 40 minutes in length, it's not as wide-ranging as other documentaries might be, but in chronicling the
design, launch, and successful landings of NASA's robotic Mars
rovers Spirit and Opportunity, it offers an unprecedented level of
visual splendor, highlighted by amazingly accurate computer-animated
depictions of what really happened when the rovers arrived at their
At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California,
we see highly skilled engineers addressing every challenge and every
possible contingency, and project leader Steve Squyers serves as our
informative host and enthusiastic populist for space exploration.
After launching in June and July of
2003, the rovers traveled for seven months and 300 million miles to
Mars, landing on the red planet in January 2004.
Every aspect of the mission is covered
in concise detail, and tension escalates as touch-down (achieved
with the now-familiar "bouncing balloon" landing system) draws near.
What's most remarkable, even to the crew at JPL, is that
Opportunity succeeded far beyond their mission expectations,
becoming one of NASA's most triumphant achievements in
The photos, chemical analyses, and other
data gathered on Mars were intended to prove the past existence of
water on Mars (and hence the possibility of life), and in this and
many other respects, Roving Mars stands as a breathtaking tribute to
the men, women, and robots who've given us a greater understanding
of the planetary system we call home.