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MARS Dead or Alive

Program Overview

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MER NOVA describes the design and construction of the Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs).

The program:

  • outlines the plan to land twin robots on Mars after they journey some 300 million miles to the Red Planet.

  • presents one aspect of the robots' mission—to find evidence as to whether there was ever an environment on Mars that could have supported life.

  • recalls the 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission, which safely landed a rover on Mars for the first time.

  • describes the challenges of the new mission—to design a rover that can survive landing with the parachute and airbag system used by Pathfinder, but with a much heavier rover than the Pathfinder previously carried.

  • reports that in the past 40 years, more than 50 percent of the missions sent to Mars have failed.

  • documents the testing process used to design effective parachutes that have the necessary stability, strength, and braking power.

  • discusses the process of selecting a landing site that is both safe and valuable in terms of the mission goals.

  • explains that the rovers go through more than 200 tests to ensure that the mission will go smoothly.

  • examines how engineers handle last-minute problems.

  • shows the excitement and nervousness exhibited by all team members on launch.

Taping Rights: Can be used up to one year after the program is taped off the air.

Teacher's Guide
MARS Dead or Alive
BUY THE VIDEO PROGRAM OVERVIEW VIEWING IDEAS CLASSROOM ACTIVITY IDEAS FROM TEACHERS RELATED NOVA RESOURCES INTERACTIVE FOR STUDENTS
   

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