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.
Europa - an icy moon of Jupiter 485 million miles away from Earth - may be our best hope for finding alien life in our solar system. Everywhere we find water on Earth, we find life. What does this mean for the search for life beyond Earth? Scientists believe that on Europa there is a liquid ocean buried beneath its icy crust. To find out if this alien ocean holds life, well need to get there, penetrate the ice shell, and navigate in an alien sea. In this episode of Explorer, well plunge headlong into the challenges of discovery on an alien world. Well meet the scientists, adventurers, and engineers who are determined to launch a mission to Europa - and follow them through the challenges, frustrations, and triumphs that come with planning a distant mission to an alien world. Through high-end CGI and quests to the edge of our planet, well go on a journey to and alien moon called Europa. To answer the basic question: Are we alone in the universe?
2010 • Astronomy
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.