Spirit and Opportunity, the spunky NASA rovers that have rolled
around Mars for two years, are the unlikely stars of an IMAX movie,
which opened on Friday, along with the astronomer who helped create

Millions of people have seen photos beamed down from Mars
by the robotic rovers, on television or online, but the new film,
"Roving Mars," puts together these images in a seamless moving picture
and splashes it on a screen five stories high.

Steven Squyres,
the rovers’ principal scientific investigator and the movie’s main
narrator, said it gives an authentic feeling of actually being on the
Red Planet.

"I’ve kind of had this picture of what Mars really
looks like in my head for all this time, and for the first time on that
IMAX screen, what I saw with my eyes matched my impressions of what it
should really look like," Squyres said in a Reuters interview.

reason it looks so real is that all the images in the film are based on
pictures taken by the rovers’ own cameras or from the scientific data
they have collected.

"Every single scene you see is real data
from the rover, it’s just processed in different ways," Squyres said.
"There is not a single fake shot of Mars."

A seemingly impossible
shot — the view of an airbag-covered rover landing on the planet —
was created by digital artist Dan Maas from data collected by the
rovers as they bounced. Each bounce was just as it happened, just where
it happened on the Martian surface.

Besides the rovers and
Squyres, the other stars of the film are the thousands of people who
worked on the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and elsewhere.

By Deborah Zabarenko

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