Arrow Media Scores Access to Mars Mission for Documentary


Arrow Media has scored unique access to NASA’s latest Mars mission for Seven Days on Mars, a special 90-minute documentary for BBC Two.

Just over a year after touching down on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover is embarking on a mission for the sites most likely to house signs of life and will go further than any rover has before. Professor Brian Cox will go behind the scenes at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to witness the workings of the mission.

Cox’s participation in the documentary fulfills a childhood dream of his—in 1980, he wrote to the JPL asking for photos from some of their missions. The pictures they sent him from the Voyager and Viking missions to Mars set him on the path to becoming a physicist.

Over the course of a week, Cox will follow the rover’s every move as it navigates across the Jezero Crater toward the remains of an ancient river delta. He will join the rover drivers, whose job it is to plot the machine’s route over the planet’s hazardous terrain. In the process, Cox will explore how the mission could radically change our understanding of life not just on Mars but on Earth as well.

In addition to the BBC Two special, Arrow Media will produce a 60-minute presenter-less version of the documentary. Fremantle will distribute both versions internationally.

“With its long-standing relationship with NASA, Arrow is thrilled to be given unique access to this incredible Perseverance mission—and Brian Cox, as one of the BBC’s most prolific presenters of science programming, is the perfect person to transport viewers into the mission to find life on Mars,” said Ash Potterton, executive producer at Arrow Media.

Tom Brisley, creative director at Arrow Media, added, “Programs about space missions offer both broadcasters and viewers a fascinating insight into what happens on these remarkable endeavors. Our ability to secure unprecedented access to these missions, as well as our proven expertise in making programming of this nature, is what has helped Arrow Media build a reputation as a world-class producer of science and space content.”

“The nature of the origin of life is one of the great unanswered scientific questions,” Cox said. “Here on Earth, life was present around 3.8 billion years ago, but the evidence for how it arose has been weathered away and erased by the geological activity of our planet. Mars, however, is a different story. It was decidedly Earth-like at the same time, with rain, rivers and lakes, but it soon entered a geological deep-freeze from which it never emerged. If there were Martians, the evidence for their emergence from the geology and chemistry of a young, active world may be far better preserved. The Perseverance rover, and the Mars Sample Return missions to follow, may therefore answer a deeper question even than ‘is there life on Mars?’ They may reveal how life begins across the universe, including here on Earth, and give us unique insight into our own origins.”