On a cosmic time scale, human history is as brief as the blink of an eye. By compressing all 13.8 billion years of time into a 10 minute scale, this video shows just how young we truly are, and just how ancient and vast our universe is. Starting with the big bang and culminating in the appearance of homo sapiens, this experience follows the unfolding of time at 22 million years per second, adhering closely to current scientific understanding.
2018 • Astronomy
The universe is hiding something. In fact, it is hiding a lot. Everything we experience on Earth, the stars and galaxies we see in the cosmos—all the “normal” matter and energy that we understand—make up only 5% of the known universe. The other 95% is made up of two mysterious components: “dark matter” and “dark energy.” We can’t see them, but we know they’re there. And what’s more—these two shadowy ingredients are locked in an epic battle to control the very fate of the universe. Now, scientists are trying to shed light on the so-called “dark sector” as the latest generation of detectors rev up, and powerful telescopes peer deeper into space than ever before to observe how it behaves. Will the discoveries help reveal how galaxies formed? In the series finale, NOVA Wonders journeys to the stars and back to investigate what we know—and don’t know. Find out how scientists are discovering new secrets about the history of the universe, and why they’re predicting a shocking future.
After 665 weightless days in space, NASA's most experienced astronaut, Peggy Whitson, smashes through the atmosphere on her last journey home to planet Earth. With unprecedented filming on board the ISS during Peggy's final mission and with the support of our other featured astronauts, we reveal how their time in space transforms their understanding of our planet's wonders, insights that will change our perspective, too. There is no place like home. Or is there? Just how strange is our rock, and is it really unique in the universe? Astronaut host – Peggy Whitson.
The Mars InSight lander is on a 6-month journey to the Red Planet, with hopes of uncovering some of our planetary neighbor's secrets. Digging deep into Martian soil, the lander will measure marsquakes and also study the deep interior of Mars - perhaps revealing the origins of the planet.
2018 • Astronomy
Now that gravitational waves are definitely a thing, it’s time to think about some of the crazy things we can figure out with them. In some cases we’re going to need a gravitational wave observatory - in fact, we've already built one.
Worried about black holes? Consider this: Every time you accelerate - you generate an event horizon behind you. The more you accelerate away from it the closer it gets. Don’t worry, it can never catch up to you, but the Unruh radiation it generates sure can.
Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.
2018 • Astronomy
Commander Stephen Hawking and his space ship the SS Hawking encounter an alien A.I., then race to the edge of the universe, and plunge into an alternate Earth. It's an epic quest to discover the secret of the universe: The Theory of Everything.
2018 • Astronomy
To coincide with the switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator complex, Professor Jim Al Khalili from the University of Surrey delves into over 50 years of the BBC science archive to tell the story behind the emergence of one of the greatest theories of modern science, the Big Bang. The remarkable idea that our universe simply began from nothing has not always been accepted with the conviction it is today and, from fiercely disputed leftfield beginnings, took the best part of the 20th century to emerge as the triumphant explanation of how the universe began. Using curious horn-shaped antennas, U-2 spy planes, satellites and particle accelerators, scientists have slowly pieced together the cosmological jigsaw, and this documentary charts the overwhelming evidence for a universe created by a Big Bang. Professor Al-Khalili comments: "This one-off documentary was made by the BBC Horizon team and was great fun to be involved with. The archive footage is fantastic too."
Lunar days are about 14 Earth days long, and when night comes, temperatures plummet. But there are other issues to deal with as well. For instance, how can we overcome the moon's lack of atmosphere; difficult terrain with abrasive particles, and the effects of cosmic background radiation?
The US efforts to colonize the Moon will follow the Lunar Exploration Roadmap, laid out with events taking place over decades. Other countries have plans as well. How will robots be deployed to work on the Moon? At what stage will people inhabit the environment? What minerals will be harvested?
Right now, we know there is water on the Moon. But how much water? Is water largely at the poles? These are Strategic Knowledge Gaps that scientists are working to fill in, and a Resource Prospector robot will be launched to the moon in the 2020's to look for the presence of water
Where and how are we going into space post Space Shuttle? Further travel in space is inhibited by the challenges of gravity wells and the science and cost of developing vehicles that can transcend them. How can the moon possibly help with this problem and move space exploration to the next level?
Mars One plans one-way missions to Mars; the goal is not simply to explore, but to colonize the red planet. A one-way trip saves billions and eliminates the risk of a return voyage. But can the crew survive in such utter isolation? Some candidates for the mission reflect on this challenge.
From a greenhouse in Holland to a desert landscape in Iceland, scientists are using the earth to tests ways to keep a Mars settlement alive and well. It’s the ultimate survival challenge, requiring major innovations to find water, grow food and clean the air.
The trek from earth to Mars is fraught with difficulties, from surviving radiation en route to landing in a space craft not yet designed. Mars One founder Bas Lansdorp attends the Mars Society Convention in Washington, DC, to debate the risks and rewards with scientists from around the world.
When Mars One invited citizens to journey to Mars, 200,000 people applied. The final 100 include a military jet pilot, an ER doctor, and an IT consultant -- all willing to leave their loved ones forever. They share a common dream -- and a willingness to endure almost unimaginable isolation.
The United States and China are considering launching manned missions to Mars -- in 25 years. But Netherlands-based Mars One has a bold plan to land humans on Mars in 2027. Is the mission fuelled by wishful thinking and unproven science -- or will private explorations get us there?
Finding alien life on a distant planet would be amazing news - or would it? If we are not the only intelligent life in the universe, this probably means our days are numbered and doom is certain.
From the origins of the universe, to the present time in mankind's exploration of the unknown, and forward into the future of what lies beyond the outer reaches, Space Unraveling the Cosmos brings audiences closer than ever before to the far off planets, galaxies, and terrestrial phenomenon that make up the limitless expanse all around us. Groundbreaking 4K/Ultra High Definition and 3D computer graphics immerse filmgoers within the mysteries of the cosmos in a way never before seen.
2013 • Astronomy
CERN and the University of California-Santa Barbara are collaborating in the search for the elusive substance that physicists and astronomers believe holds the universe together -- dark matter. Where is this search now in the realm of particle physics and what comes next?
2017 • Astronomy
Black holes are the most enigmatic and exotic objects in the universe. They’re also the most powerful; with gravity so strong it can trap light. And they’re destructive, swallowing entire planets, even giant stars. Anything that falls into them vanishes…gone forever. Now, astrophysicists are realizing that black holes may be essential to how our universe evolved—their influence possibly leading to life on Earth and, ultimately, us. In this two-hour special, astrophysicist and author Janna Levin takes viewers on a journey to the frontiers of black hole science. Along the way, we meet leading astronomers and physicists on the verge of finding new answers to provocative questions about these shadowy monsters: Where do they come from? What’s inside? What happens if you fall into one? And what can they tell us about the nature of space, time, and gravity?
New discoveries are challenging everything we know about black holes -- astronomers are beginning to question if they even exist. The latest science tries to explain how they work & what they look like, despite the fact we've never actually seen one.
Second Genesis follows planetary scientist Carolyn Porco as she explores what it takes to look for life beyond Earth, and what conditions are required for life to exist. Porco makes the case that Saturn’s moon Enceladus—with its plumes of water vapor spewing into space, confirmed organic materials, and evidence of hydrothermal vents at the bottom of its liquid ocean—is the most promising place to look. Could Enceladus be the key to proving once and for all that life is not unique to Earth? And what it would mean—both scientifically, and spiritually—if we found evidence of a true second genesis right here in our own galactic back yard?
2017 • Astronomy
Dallas Campbell looks back through almost 50 years of the Horizon archives to chart the scientific breakthroughs that have transformed our understanding of the universe. From Einstein's concept of spacetime to alien planets and extra dimensions, science has revealed a cosmos that is more bizarre and more spectacular than could have ever been imagined. But with every breakthrough, even more intriguing mysteries that lie beyond are found. This great journey of discovery is only just beginning.
A spectacular journey to the birth of stars and matter a billion years after the big bang. Scientists look for evidence of an extraordinary phenomenon known as the Cosmic Dawn, a dramatic moment in the history of the universe when the very first stars were created.
2015 • Astronomy
Twelve billion miles away a tiny spaceship is leaving our solar system and entering the void of deep space. It is the first human-made object ever to do so. Slowly dying within its heart is a plutonium generator that will beat for perhaps another decade before the lights on Voyager finally go out. But this little craft will travel on for millions of years, carrying a Golden Record bearing recordings and images of life on Earth. The story of Voyager is an epic of human achievement, personal drama and almost miraculous success. Launched 16 days apart in 1977, the twin Voyager space probes have defied all the odds, survived countless near misses and almost 40 years later continue to beam revolutionary information across unimaginable distances. With less computing power than a modern hearing aid, they have unlocked the stunning secrets of our solar system. This film tells the story of these magnificent machines, the men and women who built them and the vision that propelled them farther than anyone could ever have hoped.
Our first steps into space were leaps into the unknown. Outer space is still the most hostile environment ever encountered, but someday, we may be forced to leave earth in order to save our species. The question now is whether human ingenuity can overcome the human body’s limitations.
After we reached the moon, NASA refocused energy on mastering routine spaceflight and living in earth orbit. With the retirement of the Shuttle program, we explore the massive contributions Low Earth Orbit operations have brought to our lives and watch the new guys in town spread their wings, ready to take their place in space history
NASA is sizing up a new but familiar challenge: how to transport humans back into deep space - to the moon, to Mars, to asteroids, and beyond. New destinations require new hardware - more powerful rockets and radical new landing modules. Venture back to our early space adventures with Buzz Aldrin, Jim Lovell and NASA experts and learn about the successes and failures of the Apollo missions. Follow today's technicians as they reach for the stars by learning from these lessons of the past. The programme also looks at the extreme power created by an SLS rocket during a test at the Stennis Space Centre in Mississippi, along with NASA’s latest multi-purpose crew vehicle
The first episode of Space Voyages looks at the Mars Curiosity Rover - an incredible 21st century machine. And it would never have been possible without the accomplishments of early NASA astronauts and engineers. Everything was new – rocket science, astronaut survival – even simply steering in space! This is the story of how both humans and robots laid the foundations for space exploration that continues today.
Sagan reflects on the future of humanity and the question of "who speaks for Earth?" when meeting extraterrestrials. He discusses the very different meetings of the Tlingit people and explorer Jean-Francois de La Perouse with the destruction of the Aztecs by Spanish conquistadors, the looming threat of nuclear warfare, and the threats shown by destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. The episode ends with an overview of the beginning of the universe, the evolution of life, and the accomplishments of humanity and makes a plea to mankind to cherish life and continue its journey in the cosmos. The Cosmos Update notes the preliminary reconnaissance of planets with spacecraft, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, and measures towards the reduction of nuclear weapons.
The idea of intelligence is explored in the concepts of computers (using bits as their basic units of information), whales (in their songs and their disruptions by human activities), DNA, the human brain (the evolution of the brain stem, frontal lobes, neurons, cerebral hemispheres, and corpus callosum under the Triune Brain Model), and man-made structures for collective intelligence (cities, libraries, books, computers, and satellites). The episode ends with speculation on alien intelligence and the information conveyed on the Voyager Golden Record.
Beginning with the origins of the universe in the Big Bang, Sagan describes the formation of different types of galaxies and anomalies such as galactic collisions and quasars. The episodes moves further into ideas about the structure of the Universe, such as different dimensions (in the imaginary Flatland and four-dimensional hypercubes), an infinite vs. a finite universe, and the idea of an oscillating Universe (similar to that in Hindu cosmology). The search into other ideas such as dark matter and the multiverse is shown, using tools such as the Very Large Array in New Mexico. Cosmos Update shows new information about the odd, irregular surfaces of galaxies and the Milky Way perhaps being a barred spiral galaxy.
The simple act of making an apple pie is extrapolated into the atoms and subatomic particles (electrons, protons, and neutrons) necessary. Many of the ingredients necessary are formed of chemical elements formed in the life and deaths of stars (such as our own Sun), resulting in massive red giants and supernovae or collapsing into white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and even black holes. These produce all sorts of phenomena, such as radioactivity, cosmic rays, and even the curving of spacetime by gravity. Cosmos Update mentions the supernova SN 1987A and neutrino astronomy.
Ideas about time and space are explored in the changes that constellations undergo over time, the redshift and blue shift measured in interstellar objects, time dilation in Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, the designs of both Leonardo da Vinci and spacecraft that could travel near light speed, time travel and its hypothetical effects on human history, the origins of the Solar System, the history of life, and the immensity of space. In Cosmos Update, the idea of faster-than-light travel by wormholes (researched by Kip Thorne and shown in Sagan’s novel Contact) is discussed.
The journeys of the Voyager probes is put in the context of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, with a centuries-long tradition of sailing ship explorers, and its contemporary thinkers (such as Constantijn Huygens and his son Christian). Their discoveries are compared to the Voyager probes' discoveries among the Jovian and Saturn systems. In Cosmos Update, image processing reconstructs Voyager’s worlds and Voyager’s last portrait of the Solar System as it leaves is shown.
The episode, devoted to the planet Mars, begins with scientific and fictional speculation about the Red Planet during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, Edgar Rice Burroughs' science fiction books, and Percival Lowell's false vision of canals on Mars). It then moves to Robert Goddard's early experiments in rocket-building, inspired by reading science fiction, and the work by Mars probes, including the Viking, searching for life on Mars. The episode ends with the possibility of the terraforming and colonization of Mars and a Cosmos Update on the relevance of Mars' environment to Earth's and the possibility of a manned mission to Mars.
Beginning with the separation of the fuzzy thinking and pious fraud of astrology from the careful observations of astronomy, Sagan follows the development of astronomical observation. Beginning with constellations and ceremonial calendars (such as those of the Anasazi), the story moves to the debate between Earth and Sun-centered models: Ptolemy and the geocentric worldview, Copernicus' theory, the data-gathering of Tycho Brahe, and the achievements of Johannes Kepler (Kepler's laws of planetary motion and the first science-fiction novel).
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).
Carl Sagan opens the program with a description of the cosmos and a "Spaceship of the Imagination" (shaped like a dandelion seed). The ship journeys through the universe's hundred billion galaxies, the Local Group, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, our Solar System, and finally the planet Earth. Eratosthenes' successful calculation of the circumference of Earth leads to a description of the ancient Library of Alexandria. Finally, the "Ages of Science" are described, before pulling back to the full span of the Cosmic Calendar. Note: This revised version of the series adds an introduction by Ann Druyan, in which she discusses some of the changes that occurred in the years after its broadcast.
Right now researchers are hunting for extra-terrestrial life on several fronts. To find out just how close we might be to a breakthrough, astrophysicist Dr Graham Phillips visits telescopes, swims among the stromatolites on the remote West Australian coastline, and chats with scientists from around the world
A billion miles from home, running low on fuel, and almost out of time. After 13 years traversing the Saturn system, the spacecraft Cassini is plunging to a fiery death, becoming part of the very planet it has been exploring. As it embarks on its final assignment - a one-way trip into the heart of Saturn - Horizon celebrates the incredible achievements and discoveries of a mission that has changed the way we see the solar system. Strange new worlds with gigantic ice geysers, hidden underground oceans that could harbour life and a brand new moon coalescing in Saturn's magnificent rings. As the world says goodbye to the great explorer Cassini, Horizon will be there for with a ringside seat for its final moments.
The Earth, the sun, the stars, and everything we can see, only comprise five percent of the universe. But what about the other 95 percent? Scientists are puzzling over dark matter and dark energy, the mysterious components that make up the rest.
Just over 100 years ago, cutting into the brain was a terrifying prospect for both patient and surgeon. They could expect the result to be the surgeon bloodied and defeated, and the patient dead. From freak accidents involving crowbars through the skull to notorious lobotomies with icepicks, this programme reveals how, through mishap and misadventure, brain surgery has become the life-saving discipline it is today.
The Sun created our Solar System and in a fit of cosmic cannibalism will engulf and destroy it. However, our Solar System will see many changes before the light of our star goes out. So, what will be happening with the planets over the next four billion years, before the Sun swallows us and them?
As we continue to discover the diversity of life on Earth, we are forced to stop and marvel at how tenacious and inventive life is. So, as we forge onward in our robotic explorations of other worlds, we shouldn't be too surprised to find other places where conditions seem to be right for life.
Earth has a companion in space so large that it rules our nights, our months, our ocean tides. Why Earth should have such a moon is one of the deepest mysteries of the Solar System. We tell the story of how the Earth’s satellite became the unlikely object of desire of the two Cold War superpowers.
This is the story of pioneering missions to neighboring planets and our first glimpses of their awe-inspiring terrains. From the giant lava plains of Venus to the volcanoes on Mars that dwarf Mount Everest, we journey around the rocky planets and then to the icy moons of Jupiter, Saturn and beyond.
We reveal the planetary enigmas on our doorstep and embark on the New Horizons voyage to photograph Pluto. Will our encounter with this tiny ball of ice and rock and the trillions of icy objects beyond it paint a clearer picture of how the planets came to be?
Scientists are only now starting to unravel the secrets of comets. Often referred to as dirty snowballs, they contain ice and elements from the very start of the universe. Some theorize that a comet, crashing into our planet, brought with it the organic material that started life on Earth. Spacecraft continues to offer new information on their makeup, from bringing back samples from a comet's tail to direct contact when a NASA-launched craft slammed into the comet Tempel-1.
We take viewers into the tangle of magnetic fields and super-hot plasma that vent the Sun’s rage in dramatic flares, violent solar tornadoes, and the largest eruptions in the solar system: Coronal Mass Ejections. What’s driving these strange phenomena? How do they affect planet Earth?
2016 • Astronomy
Since its formation in the early 60’s, NASA has continued to be the leading power in space exploration. Working with other space agencies, it has contributed substantially to the ongoing exploration of our universe, achieving incredible firsts that span the decades.
Part 1 of this series chronicles NASA’s finest accomplishments in space exploration – the moments that inspired generations over the last 50 years. Re-discover the highlights of mankind’s progress including achievements such as the Freedom 7.
This is the complete story of NASA's Moon Missions, from Apollo 1 to Apollo 17, told for the first time using 4K and HD original footage taken by astronauts from the most iconic space voyages in history. The world famous Apollo missions are some of the greatest feats ever accomplished by man. With rare archive footage and unprecedented access to life on board the Apollo spacecrafts, this stunning one-hour special brings scientific history to life.
2015 • Astronomy
This is the story of the most extraordinary journey in human exploration, the Voyager space mission. In 1977 two unmanned spacecraft were launched by NASA, heading for distant worlds. It would be the first time any man-made object would ever visit the farthest planets of the solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. On the way the Voyagers would be bombarded by space dust, fried by radiation and discover many of the remarkable wonders of the solar system. Now, at the end of 2012, 35 years and 11 billion miles later, they are leaving the area of the sun's influence. As they journey out into the galaxy beyond they carry a message from Earth, a golden record bolted to the side of each craft describing our civilisation in case of discovery by another. This is the definitive account of the most intrepid explorers in Earth's history.
2012 • Astronomy
In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 captured the iconic 'Blue Marble': the first photograph ever taken by an astronaut of the entire Earth. This photo had a profound effect on our perception of ourselves. Since then, Nasa has taken millions more. In this epic, powerful and revelatory documentary, a new generation of astronauts, including Tim Peake, use those images of the Earth from space to reveal the astonishing transformation humanity has wrought in the 45 years since 'Blue Marble'. Together, the astronauts provide an armchair tour of the change they've witnessed from orbit, as humankind etches our presence on the planet. Using stunning time-lapse sequences, the programme reveals how we are reshaping our world, for better and for worse: from the sprawling megacities of China to vast desert farms in the Middle East and from the melting snowcap of Kilimanjaro to giant solar arrays in Nevada.
2017 • Astronomy
The attempt to send and land astronauts on Mars risks billions of dollars and the lives of those brave enough to attempt it. Is the possible benefit really worth the risk? And is it really achievable? Guiding us through this ethical and scientific minefield is Dr Kevin Fong. Kevin's diverse background in astrophysics, aeronautics and medicine makes him uniquely placed to understand the technical and human challenges of this perilous journey. With the help of the BBC's rich archive and a cast of supporting experts, Kevin leads us through the journey to Mars stage by stage. For Kevin, not only is this the toughest journey we will ever attempt, it is one that he feels we ultimately must make if we are to survive as a species.
2017 • Astronomy
This visually stunning program chronicles a sweeping journey, from 1609 when Galileo revealed mankind's place in the galaxy to 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. Narrated by NOVA's Neil deGrasse Tyson, the compelling program takes viewers on an adventure through the heavens and around the globe, visiting the world's leading astronomers, cosmologists and observatories. The Interstellar Studios production team traveled the globe to interview leading astronomers and cosmologists from the world's renowned universities and observatories. The producers sought the most acute minds at great astronomical centers including the European Southern Observatory, Institute for Astronomy, SETI Institute, Space Telescope Science Institute, Anglo-Australian Observatory, and Harvard University. They journeyed across five continents to visually write the story of the past and the future of telescopes, astronomy, and our ever-changing perception of the cosmos. Compelling interviews throughout the film leave no stone unturned. A carefully chosen array of today's leading astronomers explain concepts ranging from Galileo's act of revealing the telescopic cosmos to humanity and challenging religious teachings of the day, to the latest discoveries in space, including startling new ideas about life on other planets and dark energy – a mysterious vacuum energy that is accelerating the expansion of the universe. On the horizon, viewers learn of emergent telescopes the size of stadiums. With unprecedented resolution and light gathering, these enormous new instruments will look back to the initial moments of the Big Bang and – like Galileo's first telescopic observations – will reshape our model of the universe.
2009 • Astronomy
Can Jupiter unlock the secrets of Earth’s formation? How did a team engineer a spacecraft to endure a toxic mix of radiation and gaseous turbulence? After a five-year journey, the moment of truth is finally here. Jupiter: Close Encounter delivers a comprehensive, hour-long look at the unprecedented, amazing, and utterly extreme journey of NASA’s heavily armoured Juno Spacecraft on an odyssey to the largest planet in the solar system. Anchored by DAILY PLANET Co-Host Dr. Dan Riskin from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, Jupiter: Close Encounter follows NASA’s Juno Spacecraft mission as it attempts to enter a “polar orbit” around the king of the the solar system for the first time ever on July 4. The landmark mission will study the planet’s spectacular auroras, seek the inner-most core, and wade into Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. The gripping one-hour special introduces viewers to the dedicated and incredible team behind the high stakes-mission – scientists determined to provide new answers to the mystery of the solar system, Earth, and life itself.
2016 • Astronomy
What would happen if the sun took out our electrical power grid for an entire year? It may sound like the plot of a sci-fi movie, but this doomsday scenario could actually happen. Despite its calm appearance, the sun is a violent place, constantly releasing huge masses of energy known as coronal mass ejections. These storms have hit the earth before. The last big one struck more than 150 years ago in the Victorian era taking out worldwide telegraph service. The impact of a similar storm would be far more destructive in our modern age of hyper-connected telecommunication and total reliance on electricity and electronics. Fortunately scientists and engineers are building the world's largest solar telescope and launching the first ever spacecraft to fly to the sun to help us predict these potentially devastating events - and prepare for them.
2017 • Astronomy
Discoveries of new planets have revealed countless worlds much stranger than Earth. Some of these strange worlds don't have stars; others are made out of diamonds. Will we ever find a planet like Earth, or are these distant worlds stranger than fiction?
Dark matter is the biggest mystery of the cosmos. Scientists know that it has been vital to the universe since its birth, and new discoveries reveal that it could create black holes, cause mass extinctions, and might even shape life on Earth itself.
Life once existed on Mars, but a series of devastating mass extinctions have made present-day life nearly impossible. The latest science shows how Martian life keeps bouncing back as it transforms from a watery world like Earth into a desert planet.
The first close-up images of Pluto revealed unimaginable secrets of this mysterious frozen world. Now, scientists investigate if Pluto is home to a warm ocean of liquid water beneath its surface, and whether this underground ocean could harbour life.
Scientists and modern explorers are determined to send humans to Mars; as NASA builds its first spacecraft to carry astronauts to Mars and tech visionaries devise extraterrestrial colonies, future on Mars might be a reality.
The most amazing images of the universe captured by the space telescope, and a look at plans to launch a new and more advanced satellite in 2018. In this updated version of "Hubble's Amazing Journey” we reveal some of Hubble's latest observations: It has produced some of the most awe-inspiring images ever taken of the universe. But what is often forgotten about the Hubble Space Telescope is that after its launch 25 years ago it was originally labelled an embarrassing and expensive flop.
2016 • Astronomy
Recent discoveries could explain how supermassive black holes grow so big, one of the universe's most mysterious questions. Neither dark matter nor cannibalism can fully explain these monsters, but the latest science might finally provide an answer.
Black holes are the least understood places in the universe, where the rules of physics collapse. We go inside the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way to uncover terrifying secrets about parallel universes, wormholes, and space-time.
There is a hellish planet in our solar system; covered in thick dense clouds and roasted by colossal temperatures. Incredibly this is a vision of Earth's future. To understand how our world will be destroyed we need to look at Earth's evil twin Venus.
Beneath the hood of your car lies the history of the Universe. The iron in your chassis, the gold in your stereo and the copper in your electronics all owe their existence to violent cosmic events that took place billions of years ago.
Is there another Earth out there with liquid oceans, rocky continents and life like us? Astronomers seek the answer with spectroscopy, direct imaging and telescopes. They hope to find evidence of atmospheres, magnetospheres and signs of life.
The first second of the Universe, the creation of everything when space, time, matter and energy burst into existence. It is the most important second in history, which seals the Universe's fate and defines everything that comes after - including us.
Beneath Jupiter's swirling clouds lie our solar system's deepest secrets: from its violent youth, through the birth of life to the death of the sun. Now, scientists are unlocking these secrets and discovering that every living thing exists thanks to Jupiter.
How and when will the Universe end? Gravity and dark matter are poised to annihilate the Universe in a big crunch. Expansion and dark energy may tear it apart. Or, a phase transition could kill us tomorrow in a cosmic death bubble.
The Earth is an amazing place. It provides everything needed to sustain billions of creatures, plants and human civilization. We owe our very existence today to the planet's turbulent past. Our world was formed by a series of cataclysms, from the most powerful blast in the Universe to a planetary collision that could have destroyed it. Yet without these events, the Earth would not exist. Nor we. Could the same extraordinary chain of events have created other earth-like planets elsewhere in the Universe? Inhabited by creatures like us? The odds seem slim. But the incredible story of the birth of our world reveals that earths must be abundant. The question is no longer "are we alone" but "how far away are our neighbors?"
Asteroids have a bad reputation as deadly rocks from space. They wiped out the dinosaurs and will be back for us. But that's only half the story. Ancient asteroids built the Earth. And they may have brought life to its barren surface. Asteroids will shape our future as much as our past. They are the perfect location for deep space colonies and could be the stepping stones that eventually send humans out into the cosmos. From icy worlds with more fresh water than Earth to flying mountains of pure metal, a hundred miles wide, scientists are striving to unlock their secrets. Could these enigmatic space rocks hold the key to how life in the Universe arises and is extinguished?
We think of comets as beautiful glowing balls of light streaking across our skies with their long sweeping tails, yet comets are so much more than just a cosmic firework display. Comets have a uniquely important place in modern science. As time machines from the early universe, they could hold the key to unlock the secrets of the cosmos. Comets could even be the origin of life itself. We follow the incredible odyssey of a comet as it sails through the solar system, watching it's every move as it evolves from a dormant chunk of ice and rock into a tumbling, violently active nucleus engulfed in a gaseous haze. What we learn is a revelation; comets are even more mysterious and fascinating than we had ever imagined.
Orbits are the dynamics that drive the universe. From the smallest asteroid to the largest super-cluster, everything in the universe is in orbit. We owe our very existence to the stability of earth's orbit — it gave us life and keeps us safe. But we are the freaks. Everywhere else we look we find orbits are chaotic, unstable, and violent. Beyond our solar system we find planets that are blow-torched, stars that eat each other, and black holes that destroy everything in their path. Yet on the very largest scale, orbits are also a creative force. clashing galaxies give birth to new stars and new worlds. on the galactic scale orbits even construct the fabric of the universe itself.
The Universe is a magnetic minefield, with cosmic bombs detonating everywhere. Our own Sun regularly spits out lethal and spectacular flares, capable of battering our power and communications systems here on Earth, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Far out in space, spinning star systems crackle and explode, magnetic monsters rip worlds apart, star-quakes shoot out beams of devastating energy, and galactic flamethrowers fire gamma-rays half way across the Universe. Scientists are only now beginning to comprehend the true variety of the Universe's arsenal. As we uncover the most dangerous megaflares in the cosmos, the question is, will we find Earth in the firing line?
We once thought that our solar system was unique: The only place you could find planets in the entire Universe. Now we know better. For the last twenty years we have been discovering planets at an amazing rate, but they are nothing like we expected. These are truly wild worlds, a collection of monsters. From deep-frozen, toxic snowballs, to scorched and boiling nightmares: Every one is worlds apart from the habitable paradise we know and love here on Earth. Having so far only discovered this zoo of planetary oddballs we must face the question: Is every planet out there a planet from hell?
Tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms, lightning and floods – for us these destructive forces are symptoms of Earth's creative energy. The weather on Earth is one of the drivers for life and even the most violent and destructive storms create new opportunities for life to flourish. In our quest to discover if we are alone in the universe, we have recently hit upon a surprising new approach — we shouldn't just look for worlds, we should look for weather. What is true of Earth could also be true of other planets throughout the whole universe. Across the immense distances of space, find chaotic weather — find that megastorm — and maybe we will find alien life.
The first episode of this series focuses on a subject that has fascinated scientists for hundreds of years - stars. Right now in the Universe's giant furnaces stars are being born. See how their creation changed the cosmos forever, leading to planets and life itself.
Scientists have started looking to the heavens and wondering what the weather might be like on other planets. Today, we are witnessing the birth of extra-terrestrial meteorology. They began with our solar system, sending spacecraft to explore its furthest reaches, and now the latest telescopes are enabling astronomers to study planets further afield. Our exploration of the universe is revealing alien worlds with gigantic storm systems that encircle entire planets, supersonic winds and extreme temperatures. On some planets, temperatures are so hot that the clouds and rain are believed to be made of liquid lava droplets, and on other planets it is thought to rain precious stones. We thought we had extreme weather on Earth, but it turns out that it is nothing compared to what's out there.
Four astronomers celebrate 50 years of work and friendship by going on a road trip to revisit some of the world's greatest observatories. In California, a world leader in observational astronomy at a time when America's space programme was at its height, the astronomers spent their formative years developing friendships that would last a lifetime, and making scientific discoveries that would change the course of history. Together they represent the most productive period astronomy has ever had. Their journey through the southwestern United States allows them to see once again the places and landscape they explored as young men. Now in their 70s, they share their reflections on a life spent looking at the universe. Star Men celebrates the history of stargazing: the inventions and discoveries that have enabled us to learn so much about the universe, but more importantly to understand how much more we have yet to discover.
2016 • Astronomy
A spectacular journey into the depths of space: In August 1977, NASA launches one of its most daring missions in space flights. The Deep Space orbiters Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are shot into space. The task of the two orbiters: exploring the outer gas planets in our solar system. More than 30 years later, the two orbiters have traveled a distance of 15 billion miles and still send unique data to Earth. Countless recordings of these orbiters still serve as the only footage of the two planets Uranus and Neptune, and their moons. After more than 30 years of flight Voyager 1 is the farthest from Earth object that mankind has ever created. THE VOYAGER SHOW: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE demonstrates all the technical, historical and astronomical details of the fascinating Voyager missions that continue to this day.
2010 • Astronomy
Brilliantly narrated by film and television legend Sir Patrick Stewart, Journey To Space gives a sweeping overview of humanity’s accomplishments in space, as well as our ongoing activities and future plans. Journey To Space puts into historical context the magnificent contributions made by the Space Shuttle program and its intrepid space pioneers. It uses the most spectacular space footage – including unique views of Earth and operations in space – such as deploying and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. It then goes on to show how the shuttle launched and assembled the International Space Station (ISS). Together, these programs have taught us how to live, build and conduct scientific experiments in space. The ISS will continue operating in space until 2024, and the film shows how it is building a foundation for the next giant leaps into space, concluding with a fascinating, realistic scenario of how astronauts will actually get to Mars, live there for long durations, and then return home after a two-and-a-half-year mission.
2015 • Astronomy
Voyager has had a profound effect on our knowledge of the cosmos. Its mission was supposed to last five years but remains ongoing, fundamentally changing our understanding of the solar system. Featuring contributions from key scientists, we’ll explore what’s been achieved and what happens next.
An exploration of the dramatic fate of our future descendants, the technology they'll need to survive the end of this world billions of years from now and our options for colonizing and starting again on a new planet somewhere far from Earth.
From the mission that saw Pluto for the first time to the Mars rovers, a new breed of explorers are risking their careers, and even their lives, to lead humanity to worlds we have never seen and tackle the mysteries of life itself.
After visiting the Moon, humanity seeks to explore deep space and learn to live beyond the Earth. This requires extensive experimentation, and the building of NASA's first space station - Skylab. Thus begins a new stage in space exploration, heralding the replacement of rivalry with partnership; The International Space Station unites over a dozen nations - with Japanese, Canadian and European astronauts aiming to complete it by 2010. Meanwhile NASA's greatest asset - the Hubble Space Telescope - reveals what is waiting for us deep in space, having begun its life as NASA's most famous mistake.
With repeated triumphs and new challenges comes increasing risk, until loss breaks the pattern. The white-knuckle suspense thriller of Apollo 13's famous near-disaster is only a triumphant prelude to darker moments ahead. The launch of the space shuttle program promises routine trips to Earth orbit for many new astronauts. But just when that promise seems fulfilled, routine shuttle launches begin to bore the public. NASA responds by training a school-teacher to fly, in order to teach children lessons from space. Christa McAuliffe's life is tragically cut short as she and the rest of the crew perish aboard the shuttle Challenger. All missions are halted. Eventually the shuttle returns to orbit, for fifteen years of successful missions until disaster strikes again with the shocking loss of Columbia. It would be the beginning of the end for the shuttle.
To land a human being on another celestial body will be the first step to living beyond our planet. The breathless pace and daring of the Apollo program sees NASA master previously unimagined tasks in the attempt to achieve the most incredible accomplishment in the history of human endeavor. From the ashes of tragedy on Apollo 1 emerges a determination that puts Apollo 8 in orbit around the Moon ahead of schedule. Apollo 9 and 10 each break bold new ground and pave the way for something few dared to believe was possible. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon and return safely to earth, the whole planet throws them a party.
Set to the words of Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot is an animation that situates human history against the tapestry of the cosmos. Using a eclectic combination of art styles woven seamlessly together through music and visuals, the animation seeks to remind us that regardless of our differences, we are one species living together on the planet we call Earth.
2015 • Astronomy
The hunt for aliens is on! After a distinguished career in cosmology Professor Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, has taken up the search for extra-terrestrials. Looking for aliens is no longer science fiction - it is a question that's engaging some of the greatest minds in science. As our knowledge of the universe has increased, we're getting closer to answers. Many scientists now think we live in galaxy with a billion Earth-like planets, many of which may be teeming with life. But what kind of life? Has anything evolved into beings we could communicate with? This film gets inside the minds of the scientists considering one of the most exciting and profound questions we can ask - are we alone in the universe? Professor Rees thinks we may have our idea of what an alien is like all wrong. If he's right, it's not organic extra-terrestrials we should look for, it's machines.
2016 • Astronomy
This is the story of how our solar system will be transformed by the aging sun before coming to a spectacular end in about eight billion years. Astronomers can peer into the far future to predict how it will happen by analysing distant galaxies, stars and even planets in their final moments. In this film, Horizon brings these predictions to life in a peaceful midwestern town that has a giant scale model of the solar system spread out all over the city. As it ages, the sun will bloat into a red giant star, swallowing planets... as well as half the town. The fate of the Earth itself hangs in the balance. How will the solar system end?
Prof Jim Al-Khalili tackles the biggest subject of all, the universe, through a series of critical observations and experiments that revolutionised our understanding of our world. In this second part, Professor Jim Al-Khalili carries us into the distant future to try to discover how the universe will end - with a bang or a whimper? He reveals a universe far stranger than anyone imagined and, at the frontier of our understanding, encounters a mysterious and enigmatic force that promises to change physics forever.
Prof Jim Al-Khalili tackles the biggest subject of all, the universe, through a series of critical observations and experiments that revolutionised our understanding of our world. Part 1: Beginning Professor Jim Al-Khalili takes us back in time to tackle the greatest question in science: how did the universe begin? Uncovering the origins of the universe is regarded as humankind's greatest intellectual achievement. By recreating key experiments Jim unravels the cosmic mystery of science's creation story before witnessing a moment, one millionth of a second, after the universe sprang into existence.
As we approach the end of Crash Course Astronomy, it’s time now to acknowledge that our Universe’s days are numbered. Stars will die out after a few trillion years, protons will decay and matter will dissolve after a thousand trillion trillion trillion years, black holes will evaporate after 10^92 years, and then all will be dark. But there is still hope that a new Universe will be born from it.
Thanks to the wonders of physics, astronomers can map a timeline of the universe’s history. Today, Phil’s going to give you an overview of those first few minutes (yes, MINUTES) of the universe’s life. It started with a Big Bang, when the Universe was incredibly dense and hot. It expanded and cooled, going through multiple stages where different kinds of matter could form. It underwent a phenomenally rapid expansion called inflation, which smoothed out much of the lumpiness in the matter. Normal matter formed atoms between 3 and 20 minutes after the bang, and the lumps left over from inflation formed the galaxies and larger structures we see today.
The majority of the universe is made up of a currently mysterious entity that pervades space: dark energy. We don’t know exactly what it is, but we do know that dark energy accelerates the expansion of space. We think this means the Universe will expand forever, even as our view of it shrinks while space expands faster all the time.
Thanks to observations of galaxy redshifts, we can tell that the universe is EXPANDING! Knowing that the universe is expanding and how quickly its expanding also allows us to run the clock backwards 14 billion years to the way the universe began - with a bang.
Today on Crash Course Astronomy, Phil dives into some very dark matters. The stuff we can actually observe in the universe isn’t all there is. Galaxies and other large structures in the universe are created and shifted by a force we detect mostly indirectly, by observing its impact: DARK MATTER.
Gamma-ray bursts are not only incredible to study, but their discovery has an epic story all its own. Today Phil takes you through some Cold War history and then dives into what we know. Bursts come in two rough varieties: Long and short. Long ones are from hypernovae, massive stars exploding, sending out twin beams of matter and energy. Short ones are from merging neutron stars. Both kinds are so energetic they are visible for billions of light years, and both are also the birth announcements of black holes.
Active galaxies pour out lots of energy, due to their central supermassive black holes gobbling down matter. Galaxies tend not to be loners, but instead exist in smaller groups and larger clusters. Our Milky Way is part of the Local Group, and will one day collide with the Andromeda galaxy. Clusters of galaxies also clump together to form superclusters, the largest structures in the Universe. In total, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe.
The Milky Way is our neighborhood in the universe. It’s a galaxy and there are many others out there. Galaxies contain gas, dust, and billions of stars or more. They come in four main shapes: elliptical, spiral, peculiar, and irregular. Galaxies can collide, and grow in size by eating each other.
Today we’re talking about our galactic neighborhood: The Milky Way. It’s a disk galaxy, a collection of dust, gas, and hundreds of billions of stars, with the Sun located about halfway out from the center. The disk has grand spiral patterns in it, formed by the traffic jams of stars and nebulae, where stars are born. The central region is shaped like a bar, and is mostly old, red stars. There’s also a halo surrounding us of old stars.
Astronomers study a lot of gorgeous things, but nebulae might be the most breathtakingly beautiful of them all. Nebulae are clouds of gas and dust in space. They can glow on their own or reflect light from nearby stars. When they glow it’s usually predominantly red from hydrogen and green from oxygen, and when they reflect and scatter light it’s from massive hot stars, so they look blue. Stars are born in some nebulae, and create new ones as they die. Some nebulae are small and dense, others can be dozens or hundreds of light years across.
Last week we covered multiple star systems, but what if we added thousands or even millions of stars to the mix? A star cluster. There are different kinds of clusters, though. Open clusters contain hundreds or thousands of stars held together by gravity. They’re young, and evaporate over time, their stars let loose to roam space freely. Globular clusters, on the other hand, are larger, have hundreds of thousands of stars, and are more spherical. They’re very old, a significant fraction of the age of the Universe itself, and that means their stars have less heavy elements in them, are redder, and probably don’t have planets (though we’re not really sure).
Double stars are stars that appear to be near each other in the sky, but if they’re gravitationally bound together we call them binary stars. Many stars are actually part of binary or multiple systems. If they are close enough together they can actually touch other, merging into one peanut-shaped star. In some close binaries matter can flow from one star to the other, changing the way it ages. If one star is a white dwarf, this can cause periodic explosions, and possibly even lead to blowing up the entire star.
In the 1950s and early '60s, a small band of high-altitude pioneers exposed themselves to the extreme forces of the space age long before NASA's acclaimed Mercury 7 would make headlines. Though largely forgotten today, balloonists were the first to venture into the frozen near-vacuum on the edge of our world, exploring the very limits of human physiology and human ingenuity in this lethal realm.
2016 • Astronomy
Kevin explores the next frontier of human space travel. Live from the Station, Tim answers questions directly from the children in the lecture theatre audience. With Tim's help out in Earth's orbit, Kevin investigates how the next generation of astronauts will be propelled across the vast chasm of space to Mars and beyond. So, how will life be artificially sustained as we travel the millions of kilometres to the red planet and on into the cosmos? How will our food last for three years or more? And what is waiting what for us when we finally land? With earth-shattering experiments, top space scientists and our astronaut live from space, Dr Fong reveals how we'll survive that voyage to space's next frontier and beyond.
Kevin explores life in orbit on board the Station. As Tim settles in to his new home he sends special reports about what it takes to live and work in space. Four hundred kilometres above the Earth, hurtling at a speed of 17,500mph, astronauts' bones and muscles waste away, the oxygen they breathe is artificially made, and they face constant threats from micrometeorites, radiation and extreme temperatures. If a medical emergency strikes, Tim is a very long way from home. In its 15-year lifetime, the International Space Station has never had a major accident. With a British astronaut in orbit, gravity-defying experiments and guest astronauts in the lecture theatre, Dr Fong shows us how to survive life in orbit.
Kevin explores and probes second by second what it takes to 'lift off' into space. With Tim only days into his six-month mission, he helps Kevin answer what keeps astronauts safe and on track as they are propelled into orbit. How do you control the energy of 300 tonnes of liquid fuel? What happens to your body if you don't wear a spacesuit? And how do you catch up with a space station travelling at 17,500 mph to finally get inside? With explosive live experiments, guest astronauts in the lecture theatre, and planetary scientist Monica Grady direct from the launch pad in Kazakhstan, we learn all this and more as those thrilling minutes of lift off are recreated.
Suppose you placed a camera at a fixed position, took a picture of the sky at the same time every day for an entire year, and overlaid all of the photos on top of each other. What would the sun look like in that combined image? A stationary dot? A circular path? Neither. Oddly enough, it makes a ‘figure 8’ pattern, known as the Sun’s analemma.
On the 15th Dec 2015, Tim Peake will launch into space to be Britain's first astronaut on board the International Space Station. For the past two years, Tim has been filming a video diary for Horizon showing the risks, pressures and rigorous training required to launch into space. Horizon also talks exclusively to his wife and two children as they prepare to wave him goodbye on his voyage to space. From training in the Soyuz capsule, centrifuges, space station mockups, virtual reality and a huge pool to replicate spacewalks, to dealing with the physical dangers of weightlessness, witnessing his first launch and spending time away from his wife Rebecca and his two sons, this is an intimate portrait and remarkable insight into the world of an astronaut.
We’ve covered a lot of incredible stuff, but this week we’re talking about the weirdest objects in space: BLACK HOLES. Stellar mass black holes form when a very massive star dies, and its core collapses. The core has to be more than about 2.8 times the Sun’s mass to form a black hole. Black holes come in different sizes, but for all of them, the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, so nothing can escape, not matter or light. They don’t wander the Universe gobbling everything down around them; their gravity is only really intense very close to them. Tides near a stellar mass black hole will spaghettify you, and time slows down when you get near a black hole — not that this helps much if you’re falling in.
In the aftermath of a 8 – 20 solar mass star’s demise we find a weird little object known as a neutron star. Neutrons stars are incredibly dense, spin rapidly, and have very strong magnetic fields. Some of them we see as pulsars, flashing in brightness as they spin. Neutrons stars with the strongest magnetic fields are called magnetars, and are capable of colossal bursts of energy that can be detected over vast distances.
Massive stars fuse heavier elements in their cores than lower mass stars. This leads to the creation of heavier elements up to iron. Iron robs critical energy from the core, causing it to collapse. The shock wave, together with a huge swarm of neutrinos, blast through the star’s outer layers, causing it to explode. The resulting supernova creates even more heavy elements, scattering them through space. Also, happily, we’re in no danger from a nearby supernova.
Today Phil follows up last week’s look at the death of low mass stars with what comes next: a white dwarf. White dwarfs are incredibly hot and dense objects roughly the size of Earth. They also can form planetary nebulae: huge, intricately detailed objects created when the wind blown from the dying stars is lit up by the central white dwarf. They only last a few millennia. The Sun probably won’t form one, but higher mass stars do.
Today we are talking about the life -- and death -- of stars. Low mass stars live a long time, fusing all their hydrogen into helium over a trillion years. More massive stars like the Sun live shorter lives. They fuse hydrogen into helium, and eventually helium into carbon (and also some oxygen and neon). When this happens they expand, get brighter, and cool off, becoming red giants. They lose most of their mass, exposing their cores, and then cool off over many billions of years.
While Jupiter is nowhere near massive enough to initiate fusion in its core, there are even more massive objects out there that fall just short of that achievement as well called brown dwarfs. Brown dwarfs, have a mass that places them between giant planets and small stars. They were only recently discovered in the 1990’s, but thousands are now known. More massive ones can fuse deuterium, and even lithium, but not hydrogen, distinguishing them from “normal” stars. Sort of.
Today Phil explains that YES, there are other planets out there and astonomers have a lot of methods for detecting them. Nearly 2000 have been found so far. The most successful method is using transits, where a planet physically passes in front of its parent star, producing a measurable dip in the star’s light. Another is to measuring the Doppler shift in a star’s light due to reflexive motion as the planet orbits. Exoplanets appear to orbit nearly every kind of star, and we’ve even found planets that are the same size as Earth. We think there may be many billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy.
Today Phil’s explaining the stars and how they can be categorized using their spectra. Together with their distance, this provides a wealth of information about them including their luminosity, size, and temperature. The HR diagram plots stars’ luminosity versus temperature, and most stars fall along the main sequence, where they live most of their lives.
How do astronomers make sense out of the vastness of space? How do they study things so far away? Today Phil talks about distances, going back to early astronomy. Ancient Greeks were able to find the size of the Earth, and from that the distance to and the sizes of the Moon and Sun. Once the Earth/Sun distance was found, parallax was used to find the distance to nearby stars, and that was bootstrapped using brightness to determine the distances to much farther stars.
In order to understand how we study the universe, we need to talk a little bit about light. Light is a form of energy. Its wavelength tells us its energy and color. Spectroscopy allows us to analyze those colors and determine an object’s temperature, density, spin, motion, and chemical composition.
Today Phil helps keep you from ticking off an astronomer in your life by making sure you know the difference between a meteor, meteorite, and meteoroid. When the Earth plows through the stream emitted by a comet we get a meteor shower. Meteors burn up about 100 km above the Earth, but some survive to hit the ground. Most of these meteorites are rocky, some are metallic, and a few are a mix of the two. Very big meteorites can be a very big problem, but there are plans in the works to prevent us from going the way of the dinosaurs.
Now that we’re done with the planets, asteroid belt, and comets, we’re heading to the outskirts of the solar system. Out past Neptune are vast reservoirs of icy bodies that can become comets if they get poked into the inner solar system. The Kuiper Belt is a donut shape aligned with the plane of the solar system; the scattered disk is more eccentric and is the source of short period comets; and the Oort Cloud which surrounds the solar system out to great distances is the source of long-period comets. These bodies all probably formed closer into the Sun, and got flung out to the solar system’s suburbs by gravitational interactions with the outer planets.
Today on Crash Course Astronomy, Phil explains comets. Comets are chunks of ice and rock that orbit the Sun. When they get near the Sun the ice turns into gas, forming the long tail, and also releases dust that forms a different tail. We’ve visited comets up close and found them to be lumpy, with vents in the surface that release the gas as ice sublimates. Eons ago, comets (and asteroids) may have brought a lot of water to Earth -- as well as the ingredients for life.
Forget the big bang. The real moment of creation was the Cosmic Dawn - the moment of first light. This is the scientific version of the story of Genesis. The big bang gets all the credit for creating our universe. But in fact, the universe it gave was dark and boring. There were no stars, no galaxies, just a vast, black fog of gas - the cosmic dark ages. But, after a hundred million years of nothing, came a dramatic moment of transformation - the Cosmic Dawn. It's the moment the first stars were born, the moment that lit up the Universe, and made the first structure and the first ingredients of life. This was the real moment of creation. Astronomers are now trying to witness the cosmic dawn. For the first time they have the tools to explore the very first stars of the universe and to tell the scientific story of our creation.
Black holes! From Stephen Hawking to Interstellar, black holes are mammoths in the world of science AND sci-fi. But what exactly IS a black hole? Do events happen inside black holes? Are black holes really a hole? Are black holes really black?! Join Gabe on this week’s episode of PBS Space Time as he debunks popular black hole misconceptions, and rethinks what the term, ‘black hole’, even means. Thought you knew what a black hole was? Think again!
Imagine a world where dinosaurs still walk the earth. A world where the Germans won World War II and you are president of the United States. Imagine a world where the laws of physics no longer apply and where infinite copies of you are playing out every storyline of your life. It sounds like a plot stolen straight from Hollywood, but far from it. This is the multiverse. Until very recently the whole idea of the multiverse was dismissed as a fantasy, but now this strangest of ideas is at the cutting edge of science. And for a growing number of scientists, the multiverse is the only way we will ever truly make sense of the world we are in. Horizon asks the question: Do multiple universes exist? And if so, which one are we actually in?
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, we will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris.
In 2014, the International Space Station had to move three times to avoid lethal chunks of space debris and there is an increasing problem of satellites mysteriously breaking down. With first-hand accounts from astronauts and experts, Horizon reveals the scale of the problem of space junk. Our planet is surrounded by hundreds of millions of pieces of junk moving at 17,000 miles per hour. Now the US government is investing a billion dollars to track them, and companies around the world are developing ways to clear up their mess - from robot arms to nets and harpoons. Horizon investigates the science behind the hit film Gravity and discovers the reality is far more worrying than the Hollywood fiction.
The expanding universe is a complicated place. During inflation the universe expanded faster than light, but that's something that actually happens all the time, it's happening right now. This doesn't violate Einstein's theory of relativity since nothing is moving through space faster than light, it's just that space itself is expanding such that far away objects are receding rapidly from each other. Common sense would dictate that objects moving away from us faster than light should be invisible, but they aren't. This is because light can travel from regions of space which are superluminal relative to us into regions that are subluminal. So our observable universe is bigger than our Hubble sphere - it's limited by the particle horizon, the distance light could travel to us since the beginning of time as we know it.
We begin our story about 13.7 billion years ago, when all the space, matter, and energy of the known Universe was locked up in a volume less than one trillionth of the size of the point of a pen.
We have traveled into space and looked deep into the universe’s depths, but the world beneath our feet remains unexplored and unseen. Now, that’s about to change. For the first time in one epic unbroken shot, we embark on an impossible mission – using spectacular computer generated imagery to smash through three thousand miles of solid rock, and venture from our world into the underworld and on to the core of the Earth itself.
2012 • Astronomy
Follow Dr. Ben Longmier and his team into the rugged Alaskan wilderness on a quest to build a whole new type of rocket engine. Their goal is to test sensitive components by launching them into radiation-filled environments of space aboard helium balloons. Their goal is to revolutionize space travel and exploration by harnessing the energy contained in the dynamic fourth state of matter: plasma.
Where are all the aliens? The universe is too big and too old, why have we not met aliens yet? Do they live in computers? Were they wiped out by an ancient super intelligence? Or are we just to primitive to understand their motives? Whatever the answer is, it is incredibly important for our own future.
The universe is unbelievably big – trillions of stars and even more planets. Soo… there just has to be life out there, right? But where is it? Why don’t we see any aliens? Where are they? And more importantly, what does this tell us about our own fate in this gigantic and scary universe?
Now that we’ve finished our tour of the planets, we’re headed back to the asteroid belt. Asteroids are chunks of rock, metal, or both that were once part of smallish planets but were destroyed after collisions. Most orbit the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, but some get near the Earth. The biggest, Ceres is far smaller than the Moon but still big enough to be round and have undergone differentiation.
Today we’re rounding out our planetary tour with ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Both have small rocky cores, thick mantles of ammonia, water, and methane, and atmospheres that make them look greenish and blue. Uranus has a truly weird rotation and relatively dull weather, while Neptune has clouds and storms whipped by tremendous winds. Both have rings and moons, with Neptune’s Triton probably being a captured iceball that has active geology.
Saturn is the crown jewel of the solar system, beautiful and fascinating. It is a gas giant, and has a broad set of rings made of ice particles. Moons create gaps in the rings via their gravity. Saturn has dozens of moons, including Titan, which is as big as Mercury and has a thick atmosphere and lakes of methane; and Enceladus which has an undersurface ocean and eruptions of water geysers. While we are still uncertain, it is entirely possible that either or both moons may support life.
Before moving on from Jupiter to Saturn, we’re going to linger for a moment on Jupiter’s moons. There are 67 known moons, and 4 huge ones that we want to explore in greater detail. Ganymede is the largest - larger, in fact, than any other moon in the solar system and the planet Mercury! Callisto, orbiting the farthest out, is smaller but quite similar to Ganymede in many ways. Io, meanwhile, is most noteworthy for its tremendous volcanic activity. There’s also water on Ganymede and Europa!
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.
Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. The gas giant is NOT a failed star, but a really successful planet! It has a dynamic atmosphere with belts and zones, as well as an enormous red spot that’s actually a persistent hurricane. Jupiter is still warm from its formation, and has an interior that’s mostly metallic hydrogen, and it may not even have a core.
The fourth planet from the sun and the outermost of the terrestrial planets, Mars has long been a popular spot for missions and imagination. Phil walks you through the planet's topography, core, and features. We'll take a look back to Mars's past and makes predictions for its future, including the possibilities for human life.
Venus is a gorgeous naked-eye planet, hanging like a diamond in the twilight -- but it’s beauty is best looked at from afar. Even though Mercury is closer to the sun, Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, due to a runaway greenhouse effect, and has the most volcanic activity in the solar system. Its north and south poles were flipped, causing it to rotate backwards and making for very strange days on this beautiful but inhospitable world.
If we faced a countdown to destruction, could we build a spacecraft to take us to new and habitable worlds? Can we Evacuate Earth? This documentary special examines this terrifying but scientifically plausible scenario by exploring how we could unite to ensure the survival of the human race.
Everyone knows Neil Armstrong was the first to set foot on the moon. But this modest and unassuming man was determined to stay out of the spotlight. Now, for the first time, NOVA presents an intimate portrait of Armstrong through interviews with his family and friends, many of whom have never spoken publicly before.
Artificial selection is one example, eyes another, of the well-documented and inescapable process of evolution--change in a population of species over time--by natural selection. These are some of the things that molecules do.
In the last month of the space shuttle programme, Kevin Fong is granted extraordinary access to the astronauts and ground crew as they prepare for their final mission. He is in mission control as the astronauts go through their final launch simulation, and he flies with the last shuttle commander as he undertakes his last practice landing flight. Kevin also gains privileged access to the shuttle itself, visiting the launchpad in the company of the astronaut who will guide the final flight from mission control.
For many years our place in the universe was the subject of theologians and philosophers, not scientists, but in 1960 one man changed all that. Dr Frank Drake was one of the leading lights in the new science of radio astronomy when he did something that was not only revolutionary, but could have cost him his career. Working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Greenback in Virginia, he pointed one of their new 25-metre radio telescopes at a star called Tau Ceti twelve light years from earth, hoping for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.
New planets are now being discovered outside our solar system on a regular basis, and these strange new worlds are forcing scientists to rewrite the history of our own solar system. Far from a simple story of stable orbits, the creation of our solar system is a tale of hellfire, chaos and planetary pinball. It's a miracle our Earth is here at all.
How does light escape from the sun? We take a journey from the centre of the sun, following the path of light. We witness its fiery birth from in the core, its 430,000 mile battle against gravity and magnetism, and its escape from the solar surface.
This episode concentrates on how the universe was made in the Big Bang and how scientists predict it could end similarly as it continues to expand. Several theories are covered including the "Big Crunch" where the universe shrinks back to its original size, and the "Big Chill" with the universe slowly freezing to death.
What if we could find one single equation that explains every force in the universe? Dr. Michio Kaku explores how physicists may shrink the science of the Big Bang into an equation as small as Einstein's "e=mc^2." Thanks to advances in string theory, physics may allow us to escape the heat death of the universe, explore the multiverse, and unlock the secrets of existence. While firing up our imaginations about the future, Kaku also presents a succinct history of physics and makes a compelling case for why physics is the key to pretty much everything.
In this talk-show with the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill explores a variety of topics, including the nature of an expanding, accelerating universe (and how it might end), the difference between “dark energy” and “dark matter,” the concept of God in cosmology and why science matters.
It’s a golden age for planet hunters: NASA's Kepler mission has identified more than 3,500 potential planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun. Some of them, like a planet called Kepler-22b, might even be able to harbor life. How did we come upon this distant planet? Combining startling animation with input from expert astrophysicists and astrobiologists, “Alien Planets Revealed” takes viewers on a journey along with the Kepler telescope. How does the telescope look for planets? How many of these planets are like our Earth? Will any of these planets be suitable for life as we know it? Bringing the creative power of veteran animators together with the latest discoveries in planet-hunting, “Alien Planets Revealed” shows the successes of the Kepler mission, taking us to planets beyond our solar system and providing a glimpse of creatures we might one day encounter.
NOVA examines how a simple instrument, the telescope, has fundamentally changed our understanding of our place in the universe. What began as a curiosity—two spectacle lenses held a foot apart—ultimately revolutionized human thought across science, philosophy, and religion. "Hunting the Edge of Space" takes viewers on a global adventure of discovery, dramatizing the innovations in technology and the achievements in science that have marked the rich history of the telescope.
Around the world, a new generation of astronomers are hunting for the most mysterious objects in the universe. Young stars, black holes, even other forms of life. They have created a dazzling new set of super-telescopes that promise to rewrite the story of the heavens. This film follows the men and women who are pushing the limits of science and engineering in some of the most extreme environments on earth. But most strikingly of all, no-one really knows what they will find out there.
In summer 2013, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way was getting ready to feast. A gas cloud three times the size of our planet strayed within the gravitational reach of our nearest supermassive black hole. Across the globe, telescopes were being trained on the heart of our galaxy, some 27,000 light years from Earth, in the expectation of observing this unique cosmic spectacle. For cosmic detectives across the Earth, it was a unique opportunity. For the first time in the history of science, they hoped to observe in action the awesome spectacle of a feeding supermassive black hole.
On a bright, cold morning on 15th February 2013, a meteorite ripped across the skies above the Ural mountains in Russia, distintegrating into three pieces and exploding with the force of 20 Hiroshimas. It was a stark reminder that the Earth's journey through space is fraught with danger. A day later, another much larger 143,000 tonne asteroid passed within just 17,000 miles of the Earth. Presented by Professor Iain Stewart, this film explores what meteorites and asteroids are, where they come from, the danger they pose and the role they have played in Earth's history.
Horizon goes behind the scenes at NASA as they countdown to the landing of a 2.5 billion-dollar rover on the surface of Mars. In six days time, the nuclear-powered vehicle - the size of a car - will be winched down onto the surface of the Red Planet from a rocket-powered crane. That's if things go according to plan: Mars has become known as the Bermuda Triangle of space because so many missions there have ended in failure. The Curiosity mission is the most audacious - and expensive - attempt to answer the question: is there life on Mars?
It's a voyage of exploration like no other - to Titan, Saturn's largest moon and thought to resemble our own early Earth. For a small team of British scientists this would be the culmination of a lifetime's endeavour - the flight alone, some 2 billion miles, would take a full seven years. This is the story of the space probe they built, the sacrifices they made and their hopes for the landing. Would their ambitions survive the descent into the unknown on Titan's surface?
Hard as it is to swallow, cutting-edge theories are suggesting that our universe may not be the only universe. Instead, it may be just one of an infinite number of universes that make up the "multiverse." In this show, Brian Greene takes us on a tour of this brave new theory at the frontier of physics, showing what some of these alternate realities might be like.
There is a new kind of weather to worry about, and it comes from our nearest star. Scientists are expecting a fit of violent activity on the sun which will propel billions of tonnes of superheated gas and pulses of energy towards our planet. They have the power to close down our modern technological civilisation - e.g. in 1989, a solar storm cut off the power to the Canadian city of Quebec. Horizon meets the space weathermen who are trying to predict what is coming our way, and organistions like the National Grid, who are preparing for the impending solar storms.
Explores science at the very limits of human perception, where we now understand the deepest mysteries of the universe lie. Jim Al-Khalili sets out to answer one very simple question - what is nothing? His journey ends with perhaps the most profound insight about reality that humanity has ever made. Everything came from nothing. The quantum world of the super-small shaped the vast universe we inhabit today, and Jim Al-Khalili can prove it.
The first part, Everything, sees Professor Al-Khalili set out to discover what the universe might actually look like. The journey takes him from the distant past to the boundaries of the known universe. Along the way he charts the remarkable stories of the men and women who discovered the truth about the cosmos and investigates how our understanding of space has been shaped by both mathematics and astronomy.
All life on Earth needs water so the search for aliens in the solar system has followed the search for water. We examine the patterns in the ice on Jupiter's moon Europa, which reveal an ocean far below with more potentially life-giving water than all the oceans on Earth. But of all the wonders of the solar system forged by the laws of nature, Brian reveals the greatest wonder of them all.
The worlds that surround our planet are all made of rock, but there the similarity ends. Some have a beating geological heart, others are frozen in time. Professor Brian Cox travels to the tallest mountain on Earth, the volcano Mauna Kea on Hawaii, to show how something as basic as a planet's size can make the difference between life and death.
Professor Brian Cox takes a flight to the top of earth's atmosphere, where he sees the darkness of space above and the thin blue line of our atmosphere below. Against the stunning backdrop of the glaciers of Alaska, Brian reveals his fourth wonder: Saturn's moon Titan, shrouded by a murky, thick atmosphere.
Discover how beauty and order in Earth's cosmic backyard was formed from nothing more than a chaotic cloud of gas. Chasing tornados in Oklahoma, Professor Brian Cox explains how the same physics that creates these spinning storms shaped the young solar system. Out of this celestial maelstrom emerged the jewel in the crown, Brian's second wonder - the magnificent rings of Saturn.
Professor Brian Cox explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse and in Norway, he watches the battle between the sun's wind and Earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights. Beyond earth, the solar wind continues, creating dazzling aurora on other planets.
Quantum theory, the best explanation of how atoms and anything smaller behave, is so weird even scientists who have mastered it find it baffling. But bit by bit scientists are finding maybe it's not so weird as comparable behavior is discovered in our every day world. It's just that no one noticed before.
This episode documents how gravity has an effect across the universe, and how the relatively weak force creates an orbit. We also see how a neutron star's gravity works. Finally, there is a look back at how research on gravity has enabled us to better understand the cosmos.
It was 30 years ago that the first space shuttle, Columbia, was launched. It was such a triumph of technology, engineering and organization that it's easy to forget the programme was primarily the product of an economy drive. The disposable Apollo missions had cost billions. A reusable craft was deemed more expedient.
It is one of the most baffling questions that scientists can ask: how big is the Universe that we live in? Horizon follows the cosmologists who are creating the most ambitious map in history - a map of everything in existence. And it is stranger than anyone had imagined - a Universe without end that stretches far beyond what the eye can ever see. And, if the latest research proves true, our Universe may just be the start of something even bigger. Much bigger.
On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.
The shape, contents and future of the universe are all intricately related. We know that it's mostly flat; we know that it's made up of baryonic matter (like stars and planets), but mostly dark matter and dark energy; and we know that it's expanding constantly, so that all stars will eventually burn out into a cold nothingness. Renée Hlozek expands on the beauty of this dark ending.
This is the epic story of the stars, and how discovering their tale has transformed our own understanding of the universe. Once we thought the sun and stars were gods and giants. Now we know, in a way, our instincts were right. The stars do all have their own characters, histories and role in the cosmos. Not least, they played a vital part in creating us. There are old, bloated red giants, capable of gobbling up planets in their orbit; explosive deaths - supernovae - that forge the building blocks of life; and black holes, the most mysterious stellar tombstones. And, of course, stars in their prime, like our own sun. Leading astronomers reveal how the grandest drama on tonight is the one playing above our heads.
2012 • Astronomy
Black holes are one of the most destructive forces in the universe, capable of tearing a planet apart and swallowing an entire star. Yet scientists now believe they could hold the key to answering the ultimate question: what was there before the big bang?