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Is There Life on Mars?

Program Overview


NOVA follows scientists as they seek signs of life on Mars.

The program:

  • reviews early missions to Mars.

  • follows the trials and triumphs of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as they land on and navigate the Red Planet.

  • shows how scientists used tools on each rover to explore and determine the chemical makeup of the planet's surface.

  • notes that while some scientists think that water once flowed on Mars and may have sustained life, other scientists maintain that the planet's environmental conditions would not have supported life.

  • features scientists who investigate whether microbes can survive in salty Arctic springs on Earth.

  • reports on the Phoenix Mars Lander's efforts to find signs of liquid water in the northern polar region of Mars.

  • shows how the team troubleshoots the lander's equipment difficulties.

  • reveals how the lander found evidence of water on the Red Planet.

  • notes that one test showed signs of the chemical percholate in the Martian soil and reports that researchers have identified organisms on Earth that thrive on percholate.

  • describes plans for the next mission in 2010—the Mars Science Laboratory—that will search for organics on Mars.

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

Teacher's Guide
Is There Life on Mars?
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