When NASA sent two robotic rovers to the red planet in 2004, it made headlines, and little more. Had the general public known how difficult the feat was “ like throwing a basketball from Los Angeles and having it go through a hoop in New York without touching the rim, one scientist says “ it may have captivated a nation.
“Roving Mars” allows us to do that after the fact. In just 45 minutes, the documentary clearly explains the methodology behind the mission and shows the highly problematic construction and testing process before launch. Once out of our atmosphere, the rockets’ journey is computer-animated, but the effects are so good, it appears seamless. Ditto when these things land on Mars and crawl out of their heavily padded shell.
When the rovers survive landing and start sending radio signals and photos back “ with a 10-minute delay “ to a nervous NASA control room, the scientists erupt in joy. It’s an unexpected emotional moment that’ll make your arm hair stand at attention. The phenomenal Philip Glass score sure helps.
Making this excellent program even more so is the inclusion of a 1957 Walt Disney program on Mars, sporting the Mouse House’s brand of animated whimsy for the time. A nice surprise for the entire family.