Flying through bad weather can be a harrowing experience, and for NASA, it can be doubly unnerving, as violent storms can strike from below the atmosphere or above it. Witness the true power of nature in space and on Earth as astronauts and ground crews battle to overcome the elements, including a severe lightning strike that crippled Apollo 12's computer system, the freezing temps that compromised the Space Shuttle Challenger, and the tempest of space debris that sent a dead satellite on a collision course with the International Space Station.
2020 • Astronomy
The space shuttles were intended to be a safe and cost-effective way to get into space, yet ignorance and an impending shutdown threatened that. Follow the extraordinary history of the NASA space shuttles from the 1981 maiden space flight to the televised explosion of Challenger in 1986.
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.
Join the members of the historic Rosetta mission through the years as they launch, wait and then deploy the lander onto the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Experience the dramatic highs and lows of the first mission to land a probe on a comet in space.
2017 • Astronomy
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.
Sometime in the future humans will leave Earth to colonize Mars, and in doing so will begin to adapt to life on another planet in surprising ways. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Scott Solomon foresees a series of changes to our species from the size of our hearts and heads to the pigments in our skin.
Born of the Cold War, NASA moves stridently from disastrous rocket tests to the glorious conclusion of the Gemini Program. We experience the massive challenges of sending a man into space and how, despite many setbacks, the astronauts proved that the key element to exploration would be human resourcefulness, in space as well as on the ground. NASA veterans describe these early missions as the hardest of all - the first, uncertain steps towards a new frontier. Building on the success of the pioneering Mercury program, Project Gemini gives NASA the experience and confidence to take the next giant leap - to land men on the Moon.