‘NOVA: Looking For Life On Mars’ Will Leave Viewers Looking Excitedly To The Future Of Space Travel

Courtesy: PBS/PBS Distribution/WGBH

NASA has made a lot of headlines in recent weeks thanks to its latest mission to Mars.  The agency’s Perseverance rover and its companion “helicopter,” Ingenuity have kept the agency in the news as they search for any signs of past life on the “Red Planet.”  While the machines’ main goal is to find any evidence of ancient life, that search is just part of their mission.  As is pointed out in PBS’ brand new DVD, NOVA: Looking for Life on Mars, NASA officials are hoping to eventually return that evidence to Earth with yet another mission to Mars when and if it is discovered.  The new DVD in question was released Tuesday, less than three months after the then latest episode of NOVA made its initial airing is another interesting episode of PBS’ long-running science-based series.  The noted story of Perseverance’s mission is at the heart of the episode, and it is a good   starting point for the program.  It will be discussed shortly.  The interviews that are featured within the bigger story add their own interest to the presentation.  They will be discussed a little later.  The program’s collective editing and pacing round out its most important elements.  They will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the presentation of NOVA: Looking for Life on Mars.  All things considered, they make this latest episode of NOVA another engaging and entertaining edition of PBS’ hit science-based series.

PBS’ newly released DVD presentation of NOVA: Looking for Life on Mars will appeal widely to NOVA’s longtime science-based series and to anyone with any interest in space science and even science fiction.  The episode’s appeal comes primarily through the episode’s central story.  Audiences will be interested to learn that the episode’s story is about more than just finding signs of ancient life on Mars, but about looking for ways in which life on Earth can survive on Mars.  The story opens with Perseverance’s landing on Mars back in February following months and years of preparation.  From there, the story turns to Perseverance’s mission, which is to find any traces of ancient microbial life on Mars.  It is pointed out (thankfully) that there is no expectation of finding any signs of more humanoid (*intelligent*) life.  That keeps the episode’s story fully grounded.  Audiences will be interested to learn as the episode progresses, that Mars did in fact once have water.  What’s more it is also revealed that the main components needed for life (CHNOPS – Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur) were all eventually found in Mars’ soil by Pereverance’s equipment, too.  As the program continues, it is revealed that gathering samples from Mars’ surface is only part of NASA’s latest mission to Earth’s “sister planet.”  One interviewee reveals that NASA also plans to send a rocket to Mars to retrieve the samples collected by Perseverance and then return them to Earth.  That is certain to be an interesting mission in itself.  This and other interviews incorporated into the program will be addressed shortly.  Getting back onto the topic at hand, along with finding evidence of life on Mars, NASA is also researching how to sustain human life on Mars.  This leads to the discussion on ways to convert Mars’ carbon dioxide rich atmosphere into breathable oxygen.  Filtration company Lydall is working with NASA on that project, and even placed a filter on Perseverance.  That discussion in itself adds even more engagement and entertainment to the story.  The whole story rounds out with a discussion on how the Perseverance program started and where it is going today.  All things considered, the story ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment, in turn creating a solid foundation for the episode’s presentation.

The story featured in NOVA: Looking for Life on Mars makes for a positive starting point for the episode.  Building on the foundation that it forms are the collective interviews that accompany the story.  One of the most notable of the interviews comes in the discussion on Perseverance’s “companion,” the Ingenuity.  A couple of people on the Ingenuity team come right out during this discussion and openly talk about how the very idea was laughed down.  That is because the atmosphere on Mars is so thin that no one thought there would be enough air to get the Ingenuity off the planet’s surface.  Of course as news outlets nationwide reported recently, those doubts were silenced when the mini-“helicopter” did in fact go airborne.

This examination already noted that one of the interviewees featured in this documentary noted early on that Perseverance and Ingenuity were looking for signs of ancient microbial life.  This is important to note because the woman in question stresses that they are not looking for any signs of “alien” life.  This provides for far more credibility and ensures any conspiracy theory types will be silenced early on.  It is a brief statement from  one of the many interviews featured throughout the hour-long program, but is so important because it means officials involved in the project did not want anyone misconstruing what was going on.

Another interesting discussion featured through the episode’s interviews is that of the one-time existence of water on Mars.  The interviewees talk about the reality that at one point, a flowing river once made its way into the crater in which Perseverance landed.  The group talks about smooth rocks in the channel in question prove water once flowed through and into the crater.  Along with that discussion, there is also the discussion on what may or may not have happened to cause the water to evaporate, though no definitive   answer is provided.  Between these discussions, the others noted here and so many others provided through the episode’s interviews, the whole enhances the episode’s presentation even more.  The result is that the interviews prove just as important to the episode as the story.  The interviews and story are just part of what makes this new episode of NOVA so engaging and entertaining.  The episode’s collective pacing and editing round out its most important elements.

The pacing and editing of this NOVA episode are important to note because the episode’s topic is so specific.  It means the show’s creative heads had to make sure that it flowed fluidly and kept everything together solidly.  Viewers will note that it does just that.  The episode opens with the Perseverance’s landing, moves to the search for that ancient microbial life, and closes with the story of the Perseverance’s creation, launch, and landing.  Throughout all three of those segments, the discussions on the related topics and the video are solid in their connections.  Each segment ensures through that editing that viewers are never left feeling left behind or even that the episode drags at any point.  It   brings everything together, completing the episode’s presentation.  When it is considered along with the interest ensured by the episode’s story and its interviews, the whole makes this episode another enjoyable offering from PBS.

PBS’s recently premiered episode of NOVA, Looking for Life on Mars is an enjoyable addition to the long-running series.  The episode’s interest comes in part through its story which follows NASA’s work on its Perseverance rover project.  The story is so interesting in that it is straight forward.  It is the next step in NASA’s exploration of our solar system.  The interviews that are presented throughout the story add their own interest.  That is because of the extra insight that they give into everything that went into and is still ongoing in the project.  The collective editing and pacing that went into the episode rounds out its most important elements.  It ensures viewers’ maintained engagement and entertainment as it brings everything together and keeps the episode moving fluidly.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the episode.  All things considered, they make NOVA: Looking for Life on Mars a presentation that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  It is available now.

More information on this and other episodes of NOVA is available online now at:




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