Judge Kent Dixon is more of a Snickers kinda guy.
Take a closer look at how close human travel to Mars really is.
One of our closest Milky Way neighbors, the planet Mars is one of the most intriguing celestial bodies, outside of our own. Named after the Roman god of war and glowing like a blood-red beacon, Mars has fascinated us since our ancestors first spotted it in the night sky. But the Red Planet has become more than just the subject of science fiction in the past few decades, driving scientists and explorers to reach out and explore the planet with more than just telescopes. With that in mind and with NASA's considerable assets engaged in the process, scientists have begun a more concentrated search of Mars in recent years.
The driving force behind this research and exploration is the essential factor that is required for life to thrive and grow: liquid water. Beginning with the first successful fly-by of Mars in 1965 by NASA's Mariner IV, many countries, including the United States, the Soviet Union, Europe and Japan, have sent spacecraft to Mars. The content included on PBS Explorer Collection: Mars: The Red Planet focuses on the time period shortly after the failed 1992 Mars Observer project and includes info on Pathfinder, the Sojourner robotic exploration vehicle, and the twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
The Red Planet brings three previously-released episodes of Nova and one episode of Nova scienceNOW, each with their own thin pack DVD case that fits into a larger cardboard case, delivering a more contemporary chronicle of our Martian exploration efforts.
As one might imagine, given the range of broadcast dates from the material included here, the audio and video quality vary widely, but the real value is in the content that is presented. Suffice it to say that The Red Planet is more valuable for its historic content than its home theater impact. This release also includes a "play with video descriptions" feature, but only with the Nova scienceNOW content.
The Red Planet delivers a slim offering of extra features that includes an "Interview with Donna Shirley of NASA" on the "Mars: Dead or Alive?" disc and an assortment of web links, text-only and interactive content, as well as teaching materials accessible via DVD-ROM.
While the four previously-aired episodes are interesting enough on their own, the real value of this release lies in the broader story it tells: one of frustration and elation, mystery and discovery, with Mars as its fascinating subject matter. Whether watched at home or used as a powerful tool in the classroom, PBS Explorer Collection: Mars: The Red Planet is a winner.
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