January 22, 2013
Space enthusiasts will be able to get "up close and personal" (bring your camera) with a full-scale replica of the Curiosity Mars rover before the free Jan. 23 public premiere of the documentary film "The Changing Face of Mars." The model, about the size of a small SUV automobile, will be on display outside Caltech's Beckman Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif.
Also on display will be the "first image of Mars." The unusual origins of this historic image is one of the stories featured in the 90-minute documentary produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL engineers in 1965, anxious to see Mars close-up for the first time, took data from the world's first digital camera to create a hand-drawn color portrait.
"With these two exhibits, the past will encounter the present and will serve as enriching reminders to demonstrate just how far we have come in the robotic exploration of the solar system," notes the film's producer/director/writer, Blaine Baggett.
From just a flickering red speck in the night sky to a world rife with scientific treasure, Mars has so spellbound our minds and imaginations that the quest to unmask it is nearly as storied as the planet itself. Since JPL's Mariner 4 first visited the Red Planet in 1965, our understanding of the planet has drastically changed.
In "The Changing Face of Mars," the story of our earliest quests to explore the Red Planet is told through a mix of archival footage and interviews with the scientists and engineers who pioneered Mars exploration. One of them, John Casani, will provide introductory remarks at the premiere on Wednesday.
"We hope you'll join us in celebrating the achievements of those who have and will 'dare mighty things' in the ongoing quest to explore one of our most fascinating planetary neighbors," said Baggett.
For more information about "The Changing Face of Mars" and the premiere, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/faceofmars/.