NASA has taken us to the outer reaches of our Solar System, but there are still many mysteries to explore. New probes are being designed to look at our sun, the deep oceans of icy moons, and perhaps even our closest neighboring system - Alpha Centauri.
Voyager 1 and 2 are truly the probes that just won’t quit. Launched almost 40 years ago these twin probes continue to stun the world. They've explored all the giant outer planets of our solar system, 48 of their moons, and are now leaving the solar system, on a journey into interstellar space.
2016 • Astronomy
Cassini-Huygens has given us a more detailed account of Saturn than we could have ever imagined. Breathtaking images of Saturn and its sparkling rings, a massive 6-sided polar storm, and 62 moons - including the most bizarre worlds in our Solar System -- we have seen them all thanks to Cassini.
2016 • Astronomy
The inner planets, Mercury and Venus, orbit closest to the Sun, making them literally an Inferno of heat. NASA and other space agencies have attempted to learn more about these rocky planets. Follow the plucky probes that attempted to decipher the secrets of the Solar System's inner circles of hell.
2016 • Astronomy
A voyage a decade in the making, the New Horizons probe has travelled to the end of our Solar System to reveal a world unlike any other, Pluto. Now, as it heads deep into the Kuiper Belt, those responsible for its magnificent journey share their fears, joy and hope for this piano-sized explorer.
2016 • Astronomy
Astronaut Mike Massimino reveals the mysterious secrets of Saturn and its rings; using the latest science from the Cassini mission, he explores the planet's giant icy geysers, powerful hurricanes, and moon that may be hiding extraterrestrial life.
'To send a spacecraft there is a little bit insane,' says Scott Bolton when talking about Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. But that is exactly what he has done, because Scott is head of Juno, the Nasa mission designed to peer through Jupiter's swirling clouds and reveal the wonders within. But this is no ordinary world. This documentary, narrated by Toby Jones, journeys with the scientists into the heart of a giant. Professor Kaitlin Kratter shows us how extreme Jupiter is. She has come to a quarry to measure out each planet's mass with rocks, starting with the smallest. Mercury is a single kilogram, and the Earth is 17. But Jupiter is on another scale entirely. It is seven tonnes - that is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets combined. On Kaitlin's scale it is not a pile of rocks, it is the truck delivering them. With extreme size comes extreme radiation. Juno is in the most extreme environment Nasa has visited. By projecting a 70-foot-wide, life-size Juno on a Houston rooftop, Scott shows us how its fragile electronics are encased in 200kg of titanium. As Scott puts it, 'we had to build an armoured tank to go there.' The team's efforts have been worthwhile. Professor Andrew Ingersoll, Juno's space weatherman, reveals they have seen lightning inside Jupiter, perhaps a thousand times more powerful than Earth's lightning. This might be evidence for huge quantities of water inside Jupiter. Prof Ingersoll also tells us that the Great Red Spot, a vast hurricane-like storm that could swallow the Earth whole, goes down as far as they can see - 'it could go down 1,000s of kilometres'. Deeper into the planet and things get stranger still. At the National Ignition facility in northern California, Dr Marius Millot is using powerful lasers normally used for nuclear fusion for an astonishing experiment. He uses '500 times the power that is used for the entire United States at a given moment' to crush hydrogen to the pressures inside Jupiter. Under these extreme conditions, hydrogen becomes a liquid metal. Juno is finding out how much liquid metallic hydrogen is inside Jupiter, and scientists hope to better understand how this flowing metal produces the most powerful aurora in the Solar System. But what is at Jupiter's heart? In Nice, Prof Tristan Guillot explains how Juno uses gravity to map the planet's centre. This can take scientists back to the earliest days of the solar system, because Jupiter is the oldest planet and it should contain clues to its own creation. By chalking out an outline of the Jupiter, Tristan reveals there is a huge rocky core - perhaps ten times the mass of Earth. It is now thought Jupiter started as a small rocky world. But there is a surprise, because Juno's findings suggest this core might be 'fuzzy'. Tristan thinks the planet was bombarded with something akin to shooting stars. As he puts it, 'Jupiter is quite unlike we thought'.
In August 2018 NASA launched the first ever mission to a star. A historic quest to explore the last great frontier of our solar system - the sun. This will be the fastest man made object ever created. A spacecraft that will travel 450,000 miles per hour. It's ground breaking mission, to fly into the 'atmosphere' of our star and revolutionize our understanding of it. This documentary will celebrate this world changing event. Exploring the amazing science of our sun and going behind the scenes of the NASA mission to reach it. Timed to coincide with the arrival of the probe into the sun's atmosphere (Nov 2018) and the huge media spike this will create, this documentary will celebrate a key moment in human history, humanities first attempt to touch the Sun.
2018 • Astronomy
Carl Sagan teaches students in a classroom in his childhood home in Brooklyn, New York, which leads into a history of the different mythologies about stars and the gradual revelation of their true nature. In ancient Greece, some philosophers (Aristarchus of Samos, Thales of Miletus, Anaximander, Theodorus of Samos, Empedocles, Democritus) freely pursue scientific knowledge, while others (Plato, Aristotle, and the Pythagoreans) advocate slavery and epistemic secrecy.