For two years BBC cameras have followed, Dr Sheperd Doeleman of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the work of the Event Horizon Telescope project team, a collective of the top scientific minds from around the world. The project combines radio observatories and telescope facilities from around the world to make up a virtual telescope with a diameter spanning the entire planet. This mega-telescope’s ultimate mission is to capture the first image ever of a black hole. Although the concept of black holes has been long assumed to be fact, the Event Horizon Telescope’s success would definitively prove the existence of this scientific phenomena for the first time – and provide clear visual evidence. The programme brings viewers into the laboratories, behind the computer screens and beside the telescopes of what may prove to be one of the great astrophysical achievements in human history.
2019 • Astronomy
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.
In what kind of world can a child born in 2020 expect to grow up? When did our slide into planetwide environmental destruction begin? Enter the possible world that awaits a 2020 baby in her twenties: one darkened by our refusal to confront the real and mounting challenges we face but one which still offers a message of hope.
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