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.
For centuries the giant planets floated on the fringes of the solar system as distant objects in the eyepieces of astronomers. But in December 1973 mankind had its first close encounter with Jupiter. We chart the story of our discovery of these massive planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
This year we said goodbye to one of our most intrepid planetary explorers, the Opportunity rover. Take a look back at its storied 15-year mission on Mars, and how it revolutionized our understanding of not just the red planet, but our solar system at large.
NASA's brand-new Mars rover is on the hunt for alien life, and with the help of cutting-edge engineering, scientists embark on a search for fossilized remains, which might prove the Red Planet was once home to a vast ocean and extraterrestrial life.
The US efforts to colonize the Moon will follow the Lunar Exploration Roadmap, laid out with events taking place over decades. Other countries have plans as well. How will robots be deployed to work on the Moon? At what stage will people inhabit the environment? What minerals will be harvested?
Phil takes us for a closer (eye safe!) look at the two-octillion ton star that rules our solar system. We look at the sun's core, plasma, magnetic fields, sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and what all of that means for our planet.