Mis­sion to Mars: A Hori­zon Spe­cial

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK - Ben Felsen­burg

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.

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