January 4, 2005

CRANK UP THE VCR'S:

The man from 'Mars': Documentarian Mark Davis finds Spirit and Opportunity on the Red Planet (Thea Singer, January 4, 2005, Boston Globe)

The three high-ceilinged rooms that make up Mark Davis's office are remarkably spare. Besides the three Mac G4 computers, the file cabinets, and the bookcase, there are just two signs of the documentarian's latest project. Hanging on a wall near a doorway is one: a map of the Colorado Plateau.

Davis's adventure didn't take place out West. It's just that the orange-hued landscape is strikingly reminiscent of the images beamed from Mars by the geologic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which landed Jan. 3 and 24, 2004, on the dusty surface of the Red Planet. Since June 2002, Davis has been along for the rovers' seven-monthlong ride through space.

''Mars is the Grand Canyon of the solar system," Davis says, smiling. ''It has a similar terrain and holds a similar fascination."

Tonight at 8 on Channel 2, viewers can follow Davis and his two-man crew as they trace the discoveries of the Mars Exploration Rovers from February through April 2004. (The documentary also contains footage provided by NASA.) The hourlong ''Nova" show, called ''Welcome to Mars," continues the journey that Davis began with his award-winning ''Mars: Dead or Alive," which provided a behind-the-scenes look at the nail-biting trajectory of the engineers and scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who built and tested the rovers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 4, 2005 9:24 AM
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