Nasa video

Agency: In-house; Media: YouTube and; Nasa websites; Rating: 5/5

The US space agency Nasa built up one of the world’s great public relations machines during the glory days of the 1960s Apollo programme and moon landings. Fifty years later the PR operation is, like much of Nasa, diminished but still capable of glorious moments.

One such moment is the five-minute video called Seven Minutes of Terror, made by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to build up excitement for next month’s landing of the $2.5bn Curiosity rover on Mars. The film, made by JPL’s in-house video team, stars four mission engineers. They speak with remarkable clarity about the challenge of guiding Curiosity to land in exactly the right place after a descent through the thin Martian atmosphere.

The engineers’ voices are backed up with a series of stunning graphics and simulations of the seven-minute descent and a dramatic soundtrack.

The overall effect is both educational and entertaining, a lesson in making promotional scientific films. The viewing figures are impressive, too: Stephanie Smith, JPL’s social media specialist, estimates that it has been watched more than 750,000 times.

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