"The Universe" continues with one of its better season one episodes,
focusing on the planet Mars.
A lot of ground is covered in this documentary's first chapter,
as we explore the reasons for the thin, reddish atmosphere of Mars,
and how observations of the planet's orbit were instrumental in
changing our view of the center of the solar system. Mention is made of
the difficulties water has in remaining as a liquid on the surface of Mars.
The second chapter focuses on the composition of the polar ice caps
and snow on Mars - how much is frozen carbon dioxide and how much is water.
We also get an overview of the ideas of canals and civilization within
our history of being able to observe Mars through telescopes.
The third chapter comes up trumps by detailing many of the discoveries
made by Mariner 4's quick flyby of Mars, and the follow-up detailed mapping
by Mariner 9. Many of the most prominent geological features of Mars
(areology) are discussed, such as the Tharsis Bulge with Olympus Mons and three
other massive volcanoes, plus the gigantic rip of Mariner Valley.
We then move on to the discoveries made by the Viking orbiters and landers
in 1976, including the famous face on Mars.
Chapter four focuses on the meteorite ALH84001, thought to have come
from Mars, and how it re-energized our search for life on the red planet.
We also check in with researchers who have found evidence of
microbial life existing in hostile low light-level environments in Antarctica,
such as the bottoms of lakes that are frozen over all year long.
The final chapter recounts the precision necessary for a rocket
to reach Mars from Earth, as we get details and footage and recreations
of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that reached the surface of Mars in 2003.
- So Much Like Mars
- Early Speculation
- A Closer Look
- Life on Mars?
- Spirit and Opportunity