Earth to Mars: Discovery is ready for take-off

In the spring, Discovery promised its fall Mars blitz would be the biggest programming event in the channel's history. With premiere dates locked, the blitz is backed up online and in print.

CTVglobemedia’s Discovery Channel has set premiere dates for its $20-million Mars programming mix. The blitz is backed up by an interactive companion site, a live public debate streamed online and broadcast as a one-hour special, and a Race to Mars companion book.

Race To Mars, the four-hour miniseries about a team’s mission to Mars in 2030, will premiere on Sunday, Sept. 23 with back-to-back eps at 8 pm ET/9 pm PT on both Discovery and Discovery HD. Mars Rising, the 6-part docu-series (narrated by William Shatner) about how such a mission could be achieved, will premiere on Oct. 7 with back-to-back eps in the same Sunday night time slots.

Earth to Mars: The Great Space Debate will document a live public event in Toronto that gives the audience the chance to ask questions of Mars experts about future missions. The debate will stream live at, while a one-hour special created from it will wrap up the Mars themed-programming in the fall, airing Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 pm ET/8 pm PT. Additional complementary programming will be unveiled soon. The programming blitz will coincide with international celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik.

Quickplay Media produced the microsite, which currently features ads for discovery-related content, including the Pontiac-sponsored Rise of the Phoenix: The Quest to Reach the North Pole of Mars. The online hub includes articles, video, simulators, an online community and multiplayer games (such as RoverXPL), puzzles (such as OnOrbit), and a virtual Canadarm that lets users build a spaceship. The site also features a downloadable reference book for teachers and students, including curriculum-based science experiments for various grade levels.

The fall Mars programming will be followed in June 2008 by an Ontario Science Centre Mars exhibit, which will open in Toronto and then tour internationally. The Challenge of Mars will showcase the Discovery series’ surface exploration vehicles (Mars Rovers), space suits, air lock doors, computer/special-effects clips and elements of the interactive games in its exhibit.