Volume 92, Issue 73

Friday, February 5, 1999


The Concrete Beat

Rock 'n' roll ain't dead, just needs a Big Wreck

Local artists tread methodical path to fame

Week's up, end is near

Jen McLaren joins the Nettwerk

Space shuttle and Nimoy land at IMAX theatre

Pakistani, Korean cultures raise awareness

A symbol of greatness

Underground Sound

Celebrity sightings

Space shuttle and Nimoy land at IMAX theatre

By Neil Malhotra
Gazette Staff

Having a nice home theatre can enhance the cinematic experience, but that experience is nothing compared to the wonders of the Oscar-winning IMAX technology.

The latest offering at the Western Fairground IMAX Theatre is Destiny in Space – a 40-minute documentary narrated by none other than Leonard Nimoy. The movie documents six NASA shuttle missions between 1989 and 1993 (including the January 1992 mission with Western's own Roberta Bondar) in an effort to combine the wonders of IMAX technology with the wonders of the universe.

The film goes beyond a brief look into the future of NASA and potential space missions. Viewers should keep in mind this movie originally debuted in the summer of 1994 and due to rapid advancements, the documentary may be a little behind.

For example, one of the closing segments of the movie is a glimpse into the future of robotics in space exploration. "One day these robots may be able to explore the surface of Mars," Nimoy tells the audience. These robots were in fact the prototypes for the machines used on the Pathfinder mission, which has already sent back the first images from Mars. Such future accomplishments help create inspiring moments throughout the movie.

But the greatest satisfaction will come from the cinematography. Rarely have such fascinating images been captured of the Earth from the shuttle. In addition, there is amazing footage of space walks, including the December 1993 mission on Endeavour to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Many of these great shots are captured using the German satellite, ORFEUS-SPAS, which had a remote IMAX camera attached to it. This allowed the first shots observing space shuttles in action.

Another amazing shot is captured at the launch pad, where cameras were placed as close as 30 metres from the orbiter (as opposed to the typical press site of five kilometres). The shot truly captures the speed of the shuttle.

Computer simulations also provide some glorious moments in the film. Using real data collected from past missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has created the most accurate simulations of the surfaces of Venus and Mars. The simulation of Mars is taken an extra step forward and the processes to create life on the red planet are added to the equation of showing its potential.

There is also a great deal of information to be learned from the film, including some of the challenges faced by NASA to sustain human life in space. The documentary touches on how NASA is trying to defeat weakness in astronauts caused by a lack of gravity and the recycling of limited resources such as oxygen and water.

IMAX motion pictures are amongst the most amazing audio-visual experiences. Even if they have terrible content, the experience will usually be worth the more expensive price for admission.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999