Voyager has had a profound effect on our knowledge of the cosmos. Its mission was supposed to last five years but remains ongoing, fundamentally changing our understanding of the solar system. Featuring contributions from key scientists, we’ll explore what’s been achieved and what happens next.
2016 • Astronomy
The new discovery of seven alien Earth-like planets in a faraway solar system is a major milestone in our hunt for extraterrestrial life, and experts investigate the secrets of TRAPPIST-1's mysterious worlds to reveal if we're truly alone in the universe.
2018 • Astronomy
A spacecraft captures the first close-up images of the dwarf planet Pluto. Space's Deepest Secrets shares stories of the men and women who pushed their ingenuity and curiosity to uncover some of the most groundbreaking findings in the history of space exploration.
2020 • Astronomy
Astronauts have detected a mysterious region of space that's dangerous for reasons they have yet to understand, and scientists believe the long-term effects of this danger zone may have implications for the future of humanity both in space and on Earth.
2021 • Astronomy
One of NASA's most ambitious missions, OSIRIS-REx, is investigating the asteroid Bennu in more detail than ever before, revealing how space rocks can kick-start life on other planets and how they could possibly hold answers to the secrets of the Solar System.
2021 • Astronomy
Questions are raised about the search for intelligent life beyond the Earth, with UFOs and other close encounters refuted in favor of communications through SETI and radio telescope such as the Arecibo Observatory. The probability of technically advanced civilizations existing elsewhere in the Milky Way is interpreted using the Drake equation and a future hypothetical Encyclopedia Galactica is discussed as a repository of information about other worlds in the galaxy. The Cosmos Update notes that there have been fewer sightings of UFOs and more stories of abductions, while mentioning the META scanning the skies for signals.
Did you know that we could start building a Lunar Base today?
The idea of intelligence is explored in the concepts of computers (using bits as their basic units of information), whales (in their songs and their disruptions by human activities), DNA, the human brain (the evolution of the brain stem, frontal lobes, neurons, cerebral hemispheres, and corpus callosum under the Triune Brain Model), and man-made structures for collective intelligence (cities, libraries, books, computers, and satellites). The episode ends with speculation on alien intelligence and the information conveyed on the Voyager Golden Record.
How do astronomers make sense out of the vastness of space? How do they study things so far away? Today Phil talks about distances, going back to early astronomy. Ancient Greeks were able to find the size of the Earth, and from that the distance to and the sizes of the Moon and Sun. Once the Earth/Sun distance was found, parallax was used to find the distance to nearby stars, and that was bootstrapped using brightness to determine the distances to much farther stars.