Mission to Mars: A Horizon Special
Are we alone? It’s the single question that excites science and the imagination more than any other. Now we might be about to find out, thanks to Nasa’s aptly named Curiosity mission. Scheduled to land on Mars on Monday next week, it may for the first time provide definitive answers as to whether the red planet could ever have borne life. However, first there will come moments fraught with danger. At the heart of the $2.5 billion endeavour is the Mars Science Laboratory. This is a six-wheel roving vehicle bristling with instrumentation that will dig into the Martian soil in search of the organic compounds that are the building blocks of life. Currently hurtling through space at 13,000mph, the tricky bit before that is negotiating the landing if it doesn’t burn up and disintegrate in the thin Martian atmosphere. If all goes well expect another launch in a week’s time – of champagne corks at Mission Control. Monday, 9.30pm, BBC1.