NASA to Release ‘Changing Face of Mars’ Documentary

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The recent acceleration of interest in space, fueled by commercial entities like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and emerging asteroid mining companies has opened the door to what appears to be a new era in science and technology.

Although NASA has grounded its space shuttles, and new deep space manned missions aren’t planned to take place until 2021, the agency’s Mars Curiosity rover program has kept it at the forefront of public interest. Now, NASA plans to further stoke that public interest by releasing a feature length documentary film.

Produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), The Changing Face of Mars: Beginnings of the Space Age takes viewers on a journey that begins with myths about the Red Planet rooted in science fiction, to the first Mars probe in 1964 (the Mariner 4), to its latest research and missions to survey the planet’s surface for signs of water, and perhaps even microbial life. Helmed by Emmy award-winning director Blaine Baggett, who also happens to be the director of education and communication at JPL, the film uses archival footage and interviews with NASA engineers and scientists to offer a behind-the-scenes view of the agency’s history as well as its future plans for uncovering Mars’ secrets.

Just yesterday, NASA recognized the nearly decade-long presence of its Mars rover Opportunity on the planet, releasing a color panoramic image of the Matijevic Hill area photographed by the robotic vehicle.

“What’s most important is not how long [Opportunity] has lasted or even how far it has driven, but how much exploration and scientific discovery Opportunity has accomplished,” said John Callas, manager of NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Project.

John Casani, the former chief engineer at JPL, will host the 90-minute film’s premiere tonight at the California Institute of Technology Pasadena. The free event will also allow visitors to view a full-scale model of the Curiosity rover. There’s no word on when the film will be distributed to the general public, but in the meantime you can watch the trailer below.

By Adario Strange, PCMag


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