Deep in the mountains of West Virginia, the Green Bank Observatory has been receiving a mysterious signal from deep space. Could this be a message from an advanced civilization, or is it a much stranger and violent occurrence? Visit the largest steerable radio telescope on the planet for answers.
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).
This is the story of the most extraordinary journey in human exploration, the Voyager space mission. In 1977 two unmanned spacecraft were launched by NASA, heading for distant worlds. It would be the first time any man-made object would ever visit the farthest planets of the solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. On the way the Voyagers would be bombarded by space dust, fried by radiation and discover many of the remarkable wonders of the solar system. Now, at the end of 2012, 35 years and 11 billion miles later, they are leaving the area of the sun's influence. As they journey out into the galaxy beyond they carry a message from Earth, a golden record bolted to the side of each craft describing our civilisation in case of discovery by another. This is the definitive account of the most intrepid explorers in Earth's history.
2012 • Astronomy
We have been mesmerized by Venus since ancient times. Was this a paradise world teeming with life? This film tells the remarkable story of how spacecraft revealed the true nature of Earth’s enigmatic twin, that it’s a lifeless hell – and that the Earth could follow suit.
"This film documents an event that has never taken place – man's first encounter with intelligent life from space". We've been fantasizing about an extraterrestrial visit for decades, but what would happen if it actually took place? How would we cope? Should we be afraid? These and many other questions are addressed in this philosophical film about a hypothetical initial contact with aliens. Scientists and space affairs specialists at the UN and NASA and in the British government cooperate in this cinematic simulation of the undoubtedly exciting meeting between extraterrestrial life and humanity. The interviewees speak directly to the unknown entities as if they've already arrived. From their own fields – politics, theology, sociology, biology or space science – they ask probing questions. What are you doing here? Do you have a sense of right and wrong? Do you carry bacteria that could make us sick? Are we hazardous to your immune system? Information specialists in the British government show how a first summit in this situation could go. How do you inform the public? Will countries work together? Is there a danger involved? Above all, the alien visit raises questions about the relation between our own history of exploration, colonization and warfare, and the expectations with which we approach the unknown. This is a journey beyond terrestrial perspective, revealing the fears, hopes, and rituals of a species forced not only to confront alien life forms, but also its own self image.
2015 • Astronomy