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
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.
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
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.
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.
The fate of the Mars InSight lander will all come down to a fiery seven-minute freefall into the Red Planet. Will it survive and reveal new insight into our planetary neighbour, or will the atmosphere of Mars prove to be too much for our new planetary explorer?
2018 • Astronomy