The Mars Phoenix lander brought Science Fiction audio to Mars

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Mars Phoenix DVD - Messages From EarthThe Mars Phoenix lander carries a mini-DVD loaded with art, produced on Earth, about Mars. And very coolly the audio end of Science Fiction is well represented on the disc! Here’s the official word:

“Radio has been associated with Mars ever since Marconi, Tesla, and Edison each expressed interest in the possibility of radio messages coming from Mars to Earth in the early part of the 20th century. In 1938 Orson Welles and Howard Koch reinterpreted the H.G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds for radio, with unexpected and dramatic results. In a section of this disk called RADIO MARS we present some of that and other broadcasts. Arthur C. Clarke supplied us with the rare radio interview featuring a discussion between H. G. Wells and Orson Welles. The radio documentary about the Viking landing is part of a program I made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1976, as part of its documentary radio series IDEAS. The producer was Max Allen of the CBC. Allen helped me organize over 100 hours of material recorded on tape cassettes, and mix it into the audio tapestry heard on this disk. The program includes interviews with many of the important science fiction writers who witnessed this historic event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was a thrilling occasion — a moment when science fiction and real space exploration truly came together. We hope that this program will convey what it was like on the night when the history of human presence on Mars really began. Seventeen years later, Max Allen played an important role in the creation of this disk: locating the original master tapes of our Viking documentary, remixing and editing the Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast, and recording the greetings from Judith Merril and Carl Sagan. In general he put the impressive technical and studio facilities of the CBC’s then new national headquarters in Toronto at our disposal. Lorne Tulk, a consummate recording engineer at the CBC, who had mixed the Viking program, lent his skills to the assembly of the RADIO MARS portion of this disk. We are also extremely grateful to the distinguished actor Patrick Stewart, well known in our time for his role on the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, for providing the narration for the audio section. In 1993 it was much easier to store sound than to store moving images on CDs. That is the principal reason for including a section on RADIO MARS as opposed to sequences from film or video images of Mars. Radio as a medium has much to recommend it. You can listen to it while driving, for example. Nothing delights the makers of RADIO MARS more than the thought that one day someone might listen to the Welles or Viking broadcast while piloting a vehicle across the martian deserts or through the martian skies!”

The Mars Phoenix Lander Deck May 26th 2008

And there it is, attached to the deck of the lander (next to the flag), the “Phoenix DVD.” I’ve managed to round up some of the audio found on the disc, from around the net. Check it out…

Carl Sagan |LISTEN|

Arthur C. Clarke |LISTEN|

War of the Worlds |MP3| The 1938 radio drama.

Wells and Welles |MP3| A 1940 non-fiction radio piece in which H.G. Wells and Orson Welles met to discuss War of the Worlds.

The Viking Landings |REALAUDIO EXCERPT| Jon Lomberg’s report on the Viking landing on Mars, July 20, 1976. Includes live recordings from mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, and interviews with science fiction writers and actors.

By the way, the DVD is made of a silica glass (instead of regular plastic) so as to withstand long-term exposure on the Martian surface. Now all those Martians will need is a DVD player.

Also, for those curious about what else the lander is doing on Mars; the latest Planetary Radio podcast (put out by the Planetary Society) talks about the lander’s landing and what it’s going to do now that it has landed |MP3|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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