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Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain celebrate the wonder of our amazing night sky. They take us on a journey to Mars, tracing the history of the search for life on our planetary neighbou...r. Today, Mars seems like a dead world, with no rivers or oceans and no vegetation. So why the obsession with life on Mars? Dara investigates the telescope observations that started the rumours more than a century ago, and finds out what kind of life-forms have been imagined by astronomers and science fiction authors ever since. If there is life on Mars today, it is probably no more complex than bacteria, buried beneath the harsh conditions of the surface. But as Brian explains, Mars may not always have been so inhospitable. Billions of years ago, liquid water may have flowed on the Martian surface - and so the search for evidence of life is now focused on Mars's ancient past - with NASA leading the way. In August 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the surface of Mars - just the latest in a long line of spacecraft and rovers to have visited the Red Planet since the 1960s. Liz Bonnin reports from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California - mission control for the Curiosity Rover and many spacecraft before it. She discovers how Curiosity was lowered onto the surface of Mars, and how its arsenal of scientific instruments will be employed to investigate the conditions in Mars's past by probing the rocks and soil on Mars today. Perhaps Curiosity could tell us whether Mars was ever a place where life could flourish. And it's not only Mars that could have harboured life - several of the moons in the solar system are also good candidates. The astronomer Mark Thompson shows us that it is possible to identify and observe some of these moons using just a small amateur telescope, just as Galileo did some four centuries ago.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Series: Stargazing live 3
Episode 1
First transmission date: 08-01-2013
Published: 2013
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:59:33
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Producer: Alan Holland
Contributors: Liz Bonnin; Brian Cox; Louis Dartnell; John Grotzinger; Rebekah Higgit; Abbie Hutty; Marek Kukula; Chris Lintott; Scott Maxwell; Brian May; Dara O'Briain; Tim O'Brien; Nina Ridge; Linda Spilker; Adam Steltzer; Mark Thompson
Publisher: BBC Open University
Link to related site: BBC Website:
OU Website:
Production number: FKAP801E
Videofinder number: 83549
Available to public: no