Our neighboring planet, Mars, hangs there in the night sky beckoning us to come visit. Speculative fiction writers have envisioned ancient cultures and savage inhabitants for the Red Planet, movie makers use Mars as a staging point for various invasions and crises, and then there's the matter of what may or may not be a massive face watching over the Martian planes. It's a fascinating place that we just can't seem to reach -- or at least we couldn't until the Mars Exploration Rover Mission successfully landed two robotic proxies on the surface, allowing scientists an up-close view of the planet that's enchanted our imaginations for millennia. The story of the MER team is told by its members in the IMAX film, Roving Mars
. Drs. Steve Squyres and Rob Manning narrate the design and development of Spirit and Opportunity, the tough explorer-bots that made the journey, while the images these wheeled wonders transmitted back to Earth are used as the basis for computer-generated footage of their respective missions. Roving Mars
paints the full picture of NASAs great achievement, from conception through testing and failure to that magical moment when Spirit rolled free of its landing debris and began transmitting data back to earth. Roving Mars
screens daily at the Saint Louis Science Center OMNIMAX Theater (5050 Oakland Avenue; 314-289-4424 or www.slsc.org
). Tickets are $8 to $9.
Sept. 21-Jan. 5, 2011