Educator Features

Bouncing to Mars Broadcast
08.26.03
Two computer-generated images of Mars Exploration Rover on surface of Mars
Rovers in Action
On August 27, 2003, the planet Mars will be nearer to Earth than at any time in the past 50,000 years. But in January 2004 humans will get closer to Mars than ever before. That's when NASA's twin Mars Exploration Rovers, MER, will approach the Red Planet at some 12,000 miles per hour, bounce to a halt with an airbag landing system and -- if all goes well -- begin a 3-month science mission, searching for evidence of liquid water on Mars and environments that may once have been home to life.

But the rovers' journeys started long before launch or landing. BOUNCING TO MARS goes behind the scenes to tell the story of their design and development, in the words of the diverse team of men and women who brought the robots to life. BOUNCING TO MARS features scenes in the world's largest vacuum chamber in Sandusky, Ohio, as engineers face unexpected failures in the airbags. Raucous scientific meetings result in votes about where to land and what to look for. A record-breaking, cross-country convoy takes the spacecraft to the Cape. Tough questions from review boards remind them about how important MER is to NASA and the nation, and how much is riding on their success, or failure. Two thirds of all missions to Mars don't make it, and BOUNCING TO MARS is the inside story of MER's efforts both to get to Mars and land safely, and do breakthrough science.

the pictures: one of air-bag testing, one of woman sewing, another of men working on what appears to be 2 parachutes
Scientists Testing Different Components
Scientists and engineers appearing include Project Manager, Pete Theisinger; lead science investigator, Steve Squyres (Cornell); Project Scientist, Joy Crisp; system engineer, Jennifer Trosper; mechanical engineer, Kobie Boykins; and many more. MER is a mission that "looks like America," including men and women from every kind of background in key roles. Their candid comments take viewers behind the scenes of a major space mission as never before.

Underwriters
BOUNCING TO MARS and the ongoing "To Mars with MER" project is made possible, in part, by NSF, the National Science Foundation. Outreach and additional educational programming are supported by NASA, NSF, and other public and private partners.

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Mars Exploration Rover Mission
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