- Radio Times
- Review by:
- David Butcher
Last week, face cream. This week, the search for life on Mars. Never let it be said Horizon doesn’t probe the frontiers of science. Tonight’s probing takes us to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, where engineers will next week watch a $2.5 billion project to land a rover on the surface of Mars come to fruition — or crash and burn.
It’s a staggering undertaking and one of the joys of the programme is the way it builds up the layers of difficulty involved: from the problems of communicating across space (the mission engineers effectively have to queue for the phone at a Nasa antenna), to the problems of landing the rover using a mad-looking “sky-crane manoeuvre” that even engineers admit is dicey.
From there, a six-wheeled science lab will trundle across Mars for years firing lasers at rocks and conducting a series of experiments. The film gives us a sense of what a noble project this could be — if it works. And when we see the rover itself, called “Curiosity’’, it really does look very cool indeed.
About this programme
Behind the scenes of Curiosity, Nasa's latest mission to investigate the possibility of life on Mars. The agency successfully landed a nuclear-powered rover vehicle, which cost $2.5billion to develop, on the surface of the planet by winching it down from a rocket-powered crane, and is now using it to explore the terrain. The programme also discovers the lessons experts have learned from previous expeditions, many of which ended in failure, and the project's chief scientist John Grotzinger discusses what he hopes the mission will reveal.
Cast and crew
- Graeme McAulay
- Series Editor
- Aidan Laverty