Roving Mars
Now showing at Great Clips IMAX Theater - MN Zoo
Jan - Feb 2006

Images shot on Feb 4th, 2006.
Shot with a Kodak C310

(Click on any thumbnail to see a larger 1040x772 JPEG image)

Outside MN Zoo Imax
Outside MN Zoo Imax
MN SFS MER 1:1 model
MN SFS MER 1:1 model
Handouts and gravity bottles
Handouts and gravity bottles
Movie Poster
Movie Poster
Display visitors
Display visitor
Becky & MER
Becky & MER

Copy from IMAX website
The mysterious Red Planet, Mars, has inspired countless science fiction dreams and nightmares. Now, for the first time, experience the reality of the Mars surface as seen through the eyes of two intrepid, death-defying explorers - Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Rovers - in the spectacular new giant screen adventure Roving Mars, exclusively in IMAX Theatres. The phenomenal size and clarity of the IMAX screen draws the viewer into a spectacular landscape that is at once awe-inspiring and amazing. And the suspenseful drama of the Rovers' dogged quest over the rugged terrain may even answer that persistently haunting question - Is there life on Mars?

Produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Frank Marshall ("Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "The Sixth Sense," "Seabiscuit") and produced and directed by George Butler ("The Endurance: Shackleton's legendary Antarctic Expedition," "Pumping Iron"), this film takes moviegoers on a fantastic journey unlike any that has ever been seen on the giant screen before. "Roving Mars" was written by George Butler and Robert Andrus, with narration written by George Butler. Multiple Oscar-nominated composed Phillip Glass ("The Hours," "Kundun") adds to the excitement with his brilliant score.

Review from The Space Review
...Roving Mars is about much more than the rovers' travels on the surface of Mars. Much of the movie focuses instead on the work required to build the rovers, including the struggles to get the rover, including its airbags and parachutes, ready in time for launch. The movie then covers the launch of the rovers and their landing on the Red Planet, using a mix of actual footage and detailed computer animations. Only late in the movie - no more than the final third or so - do we finally see the rovers moving across the Martian surface and making discoveries that support the notion that the planet once had liquid water on its surface.

One challenge with Roving Mars is that Spirit and Opportunity were not equipped with IMAX cameras; even if they were, there would be no way to film themselves landing on Mars or rolling across the terrain. It's a challenge similar to that faced by the producers of another recent IMAX space movie, Magnificent Desolation (see "Review: Magnificent Desolation", The Space Review, September 26, 2005): after all, the Apollo astronauts did not carry IMAX cameras on their expeditions. Magnificent Desolation solved that problem by meticulously recreating the Apollo moonwalks on a soundstage, adding computer-generated special effects where necessary. In this case, producers relied on "IMAX-quality" still images taken by the rovers, integrated into computer-generated animations created by Dan Maas (who created stunning pre-launch animations of the mission while still a student at Cornell University). The result is something both as realistic and accurate as possible given the limitations of contemporary technology: for example, every bounce by the airbag-swaddled rovers shown in the movie is based on the telemetry from the rovers' actual landings. Some elements of the movie, such as the depictions of the launch and landing of the rovers, are superb, especially when seen and heard in IMAX. The launch in particular is breathtaking, having combined actual footage and computer animations almost seamlessly.

The movie is as much about the people who built and operated the rovers, though, as it is about the rovers themselves. There is considerable footage of the assembly and testing of the rovers at JPL, and later footage from the control room when the first rover, Spirit, landed. The movie eschews the celebrity narration often used in IMAX movies in favor of commentary from the likes of project scientist Steve Squyres and Rob Manning, who led the entry, descent, and landing team for the rover project. (There is an opening narration by a gravelly-voiced Paul Newman, who sounds more like Walter Cronkite than the star of The Sting and The Hustler). An ethereal soundtrack by composer Phillip Glass and the group Sigur Ros blends into the background so much that that average viewer may not notice it at all, at least until near the end...

The Walt Disney film Roving Mars features twelve minutes of all-new animation by Maas Digital in eye-popping IMAX format! If you liked his first Mars Rover animation, you will love this film!

Check out the free 20 page 2.6M PDF Roving Mars Educator's Guide on the Disney web site.

Lockheed Martin Roving Mars Press Release

Photos by Ben Huset

Last revision Feb 6th, 2006
by Ben

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