A spectacular journey to the birth of stars and matter a billion years after the big bang. Scientists look for evidence of an extraordinary phenomenon known as the Cosmic Dawn, a dramatic moment in the history of the universe when the very first stars were created.
Neil deGrasse Tyson sets off on the Ship of the Imagination to chase a single comet through its million-year plunge toward Sol. Later, Tyson visits the birth-place of Sir Isaac Newton and retraces the unlikely friendship between Newton and brilliant polymath Edmond Halley. It was Halley's patience and generosity which allowed Newton to conquer his fear of isolation and find the courage to publish his masterwork, "Principia Mathematica" which launched a scientific revolution.
Last week we covered multiple star systems, but what if we added thousands or even millions of stars to the mix? A star cluster. There are different kinds of clusters, though. Open clusters contain hundreds or thousands of stars held together by gravity. They’re young, and evaporate over time, their stars let loose to roam space freely. Globular clusters, on the other hand, are larger, have hundreds of thousands of stars, and are more spherical. They’re very old, a significant fraction of the age of the Universe itself, and that means their stars have less heavy elements in them, are redder, and probably don’t have planets (though we’re not really sure).
The attempt to send and land astronauts on Mars risks billions of dollars and the lives of those brave enough to attempt it. Is the possible benefit really worth the risk? And is it really achievable? Guiding us through this ethical and scientific minefield is Dr Kevin Fong. Kevin's diverse background in astrophysics, aeronautics and medicine makes him uniquely placed to understand the technical and human challenges of this perilous journey. With the help of the BBC's rich archive and a cast of supporting experts, Kevin leads us through the journey to Mars stage by stage. For Kevin, not only is this the toughest journey we will ever attempt, it is one that he feels we ultimately must make if we are to survive as a species.
2017 • Astronomy
Kevin explores the next frontier of human space travel. Live from the Station, Tim answers questions directly from the children in the lecture theatre audience. With Tim's help out in Earth's orbit, Kevin investigates how the next generation of astronauts will be propelled across the vast chasm of space to Mars and beyond. So, how will life be artificially sustained as we travel the millions of kilometres to the red planet and on into the cosmos? How will our food last for three years or more? And what is waiting what for us when we finally land? With earth-shattering experiments, top space scientists and our astronaut live from space, Dr Fong reveals how we'll survive that voyage to space's next frontier and beyond.
The shape, contents and future of the universe are all intricately related. We know that it's mostly flat; we know that it's made up of baryonic matter (like stars and planets), but mostly dark matter and dark energy; and we know that it's expanding constantly, so that all stars will eventually burn out into a cold nothingness. Renée Hlozek expands on the beauty of this dark ending.