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Nova: Ultimate Mars Challenge Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60 (29.970Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: Yellow
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 60 Mins.
  • Studio: PBS
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 19, 2013
  • List Price: $29.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Show
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Show

[Rating:4/5]

In August 2012 NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission reached a milestone by placing the largest, most complex Mars rover ever built on the red planet using a new landing technique. The vehicle, Curiosity, was for the first time for any such vehicle, lowered to planet on cables and placed on its wheels. This show, Ultimate Mars Challenge, an entry from the long-running PBS series Nova, follows the development of Curiosity from beginning to end, the testing stages of the innovative landing technique, and delves into some of the cutting edge technologies deployed on the Curiosity rover. It also explores the sixty-years of Mars exploration by the U.S., some of the now, almost oddball theories once held by scientists and society alike about what might reside on the red planet, and captures the excitement surrounding Curiosity‘s successful landing and first explorations of Mars.

As a small and quick look into the inner workings of NASA, this little aside is an interesting watch, especially for science and space buffs. Even though we already know the ultimate outcome of the mission – unless you’ve been living under a rock – it is still rather enthralling and intense going through and watching the tests, failures, and ultimate successes of such an important and, possibly, influential mission.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

While we do get accurate flesh tones, a bright presentation with good contrast and a strong level of detail in the high definition footage with this 1080i/60 AVC encodement, the mixture of footage that ranges from standard definition stock footage from NASA’s outer space programs, photos and other content like low-res CGI effects, often yield some motion artifacts, noise, and softness. While this isn’t due to the transfer, it isn’t always the best high definition material. Still, for what it is, this is a good presentation on Blu-ray from PBS.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

A simple stereo soundtrack in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/16-bit). It won’t be at the top of any lists to show off your sound system, but it offers a straightforward presentation with clean dialogue that works for this sort of material.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Move along, nothing here.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

No one does series like these in the U.S. Better than PBS, and this episode from Nova is no exception to that rule. PBS manages to capture in a mere hour what other networks from cable miss in entire mini-series. Ultimate Mars Challenge is a must for space fans and for science teachers looking to add a little pizazz to their classroom.

Additional Screen Captures

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Nova: Ultimate Mars Challenge - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Nova: Ultimate Mars Challenge on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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BestBuy.com:
Nova: Ultimate Mars Challenge - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Nova: Ultimate Mars Challenge on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Show
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]



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