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Mars Landing 2012

30 Jul

Secret Space Escapes

What’s it like to leave earth to explore the unknown? How does it feel to be in space? What happens when you’re in space and something goes terribly wrong? Science Channel’s SECRET SPACE ESCAPES reveals terrifying accidents, fights for survival, and stories of close calls and near misses by the astronauts who survived them. This all-new series offers chilling accounts of the challenges of space exploration as told only by the explorers who lived them and the men and women in mission control who helped each team avert disaster. SECRET SPACE ESCAPES premieres on Science Channel Nov. 10 at 10 PM.

Recounting missions as recent as 2013, SECRET SPACE ESCAPES will draw viewers into the emotional experience of space exploration. Through first-hand accounts by the astronauts who relied upon science, training, colleagues on earth and, most importantly, their wits, in order to survive launches, space walks, landings, collisions, outages and other dangerous situations that occurred during their missions.  This is the first time that these near-disasters-turned-triumphs have been told solely from the point of view of the men and women who problem-solved each event – there is no narration in the series, and the stories unfold solely in the words of the people who were there. S98e5276

“The personal stories of the astronauts in SECRET SPACE ESCAPES have never been seen like this before on television,” said Rita Mullin, General Manager of Science Channel.   “These men and women have pushed space exploration forward with each mission, and their stories will haunt, entertain, educate and inspire.”

Featuring rare and never before seen footage, the astronauts and stories featured in SECRET SPACE ESCAPES will include:

  • Robert Curbeam and Thomas Jones trained for years to install a new American module on the International Space Station (ISS). During their long-anticipated spacewalk, a valve malfunctions and toxic ammonia flakes from the cooling system pour all over Curbeam. He struggles desperately to stop the leak before the vital cooling system fails. Covered like a snowman with ammonia flakes, Curbeam cannot risk re-entering the spacecraft, where the toxic ammonia could sicken or blind the crew. His only option is to stay outside, zooming at 17,000 miles per hour, 225 miles above the earth, and wait for the sun to melt away the contaminants.
  • When a new solar panel on the ISS tears, Scott Parazynski ventures out on a 90-foot arm to make improvised repairs. The solar panels carry enough voltage to fry Dr. Parazynski in his oxygen-filled suit -- but if he fails in his task, the ISS is doomed.
  • In 1997, Mike Foale is on an extended mission aboard the Russian Mir space station when it is struck by a resupply vessel. The station springs a leak, losing power rapidly and launching into an out of control spin. Under extreme pressure, Foale makes an ad hoc calculation using the position of the stars to determine the speed and direction of the spin. He and his Russian colleagues Vasily Tsibliyev and Aleksandr “Sasha” Lazutkin are able to use the rockets inside the attached Soyuz capsule to stop the roll, save the ship -- and their lives.
  • Hoot Gibson and Mike Mullane are on the second shuttle to launch after the Challenger disaster. It’s 1986 and STS-27 is a classified mission to launch a spy satellite. During liftoff, a video of the launch reveals a fragment of the booster rocket’s insulation breaking off and striking the underbelly of the space shuttle, Atlantis, damaging many of the protective heat shield tiles that leave parts of the shuttle exposed to 5,000 degree heat upon re-entry. Gibson thinks he’s going to die and Mullane suspects they may be facing certain disaster. They have no alternatives – there are no stations to dock to, there is no time to send another Shuttle to aid them and no way to conduct a spacewalk to fix the issue. Miraculously, even with vulnerable unshielded spots on her, Atlantis withstands the heat of reentry because a steel plate just happens to protect the aluminum hull where it is most exposed.
  • In 1969, the Soyuz 5 capsule tumbles to earth in a fireball because a malfunction does not jettison an extra equipment module. It’s like a car dragging a U-Haul trailer. When the capsule finally rights itself and the extra modules are jettisoned, its parachutes only partially deploy and the rockets that aid a soft landing barely function. Cosmonaut Boris Volynov lands way off target. Covered in blood from his broken teeth sustained in the crash landing, he manages to climb out of the wreckage and find his way to the door of a very surprised peasant.

SECRET SPACE ESCAPES is produced for Science Channel by ITV Studios America where Vincent Kralyevich and Patrice Andrews serve as executive producers. For Science Channel Neil Laird and Rocky Collins serve as executive producers and Lindsey Foster Blumberg is producer. Bernadette McDaid is vice president of production for Science Channel.

5 Aug

Two Years Ago Today, NASA's Curiosity Rover Landed On Mars

Two years ago today, at 10:32 p.m. PDT, NASA successfully landed its Curiosity rover on Mars. At the time, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden heralded the landing as "an amazing achievement."

"Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars -- or if the planet can sustain life in the future."


After landing safely, Curiosity sent its first tweet (and photo!) back to Earth:

In just a few years, the Mars 2020 rover will take Red Planet exploration to the next level as it brings high-tech tools -- like the science fiction-esque ability to make oxygen in a carbon dioxide atmosphere -- to space.

Relive the drama of the Mars landing:

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8 Aug

Was Mars Ever Habitable? Curiosity's SAM Instrument Seeks the Answer

Click here for more NASA Curiosity Photos!After its amazing landing, which felt like it was straight out of a science fiction novel, NASA’s Curiosity rover is now safely on Mars and already at work. “Curiosity was designed to assess whether Mars ever had an environment able to support small life forms called microbes. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's ‘habitability.’”[1] To do this, Curiosity is equipped with an on-board laboratory that includes instruments ranging from spectrometers and radiation detectors to environmental and atmospheric sensors. Here’s what I learned from my visit to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center last week:

Gale Crater, Curiosity’s landing site, is the ideal place to search for evidence of organic compounds on Mars, many of which are the chemical building blocks of life on Earth. Similar to the Grand Canyon (though three times as high!), Gale Crater has exposed layers of rock that NASA hopes will reveal if there ever was life on Mars. Starting at the base of the crater, where the oldest sediments from the planet’s early years can be found, Curiosity will begin roving the area, performing experiments on the crater’s rock layers with its on-board lab.

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5 Aug

Get Ready for Mars Landing TONIGHT: Live Video and Top 3 Links

NASA Curiosity Rover at Work on MarsPrepare yourselves fellow space enthusiasts. The long-awaited Mars landing of NASA's Curiosity rover is upon us! The latest projections put the exact time of touchdown at 10:30pm PST tonight — 1:31am for folks on the East coast.

As (we hope) most of you already know from our Associate Producer Lindsey's post earlier this week, SCIENCE will be airing a spectacular recap of the mission and its results the day after the landing. Don't forget to tune in for Mars Landing 2012 at 10PM e/p on Monday night.

For those who want to watch history in the making tonight, NASA is making live video of the entire touch down available live on their NASA TV site. The real time coverage starts tonight at 8:30pm PST / 11:30pm EST.

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2 Aug

Producer's Take: Mars Landing 2012

NASA's Curiosity RoverAs NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory prepares for and executes one of the most complex Mars missions ever, SCIENCE is excited to bring you coverage of this prolific event on Monday, August 6th @ 10:00pm e/p.

If all goes according to plan — and that's a BIG if — scientists aim to discover whether or not Mars has, or ever had, the chemical building blocks to support life. In case you can't tell by a large portion of our programming dedicated to space, we geek out over this kind of stuff! 

Using a combination of field reporting, hosted interviews and informed news updates, Mars Landing 2012 will focus exclusively on the science and technology involved in bringing this mission to life. The show will feature scientists, technicians and big picture thinkers — those who have dedicated their careers and passion to this project.

Our hosts will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Lab in the hours after the Curiosity rover touches down on the surface of Mars. History will be made on August 6th, whether the landing mission is successful or not, and SCIENCE will be there with a full crew to provide coverage.

Check out this sneak peek of Mars Landing 2012. And don't forget to watch on Monday at 10PM e/p!




30 Jul

Mars Landing: 7 Minutes of Terror

We're only a few days away from touch down for the Curiosity Mars rover this Sunday, August 5! And SCIENCE will be airing a special about the Mars landing, Mars Landing 2012: The New Search for Life, on Monday, August 6 at 10PM E/P. 

This latest mission to Mars is to search for any signs of life - past, present or future. The rover will begin the mission inside a huge impact basin called the Gale Crater, which could prove to be the remains of an ancient lake, and span out from there.

What most people don't realize is what an epic task it is just to land the rover on the surface of Mars without something going horrendously wrong. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories created this video to help people understand just how difficult the landing will be:

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