From H. G. Wells and Percival Lowell to the present day (“Mars Attacks!”), the Red Planet has captured minds and imaginations. This program shows how spacecraft observations have replaced science fictions with science fact. We go behind the scenes at NASA JPL during the triumphant landing of Mars Pathfinder and the deployment of the Sojourner rover (named by a high school student for abolitionist heroine, Sojourner Truth). The latest images from Mars Global Surveyor show why Mars—despite the absence of Martian civilizations—remains a fascinating place to explore in the coming decades.

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