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.
Gamma-ray bursts are not only incredible to study, but their discovery has an epic story all its own. Today Phil takes you through some Cold War history and then dives into what we know. Bursts come in two rough varieties: Long and short. Long ones are from hypernovae, massive stars exploding, sending out twin beams of matter and energy. Short ones are from merging neutron stars. Both kinds are so energetic they are visible for billions of light years, and both are also the birth announcements of black holes.
Explained examines the possibility of extraterrestrial life and looks at why we have not yet found evidence for its existence despite efforts to look for it. It considers the Fermi paradox which suggests that given the vastness of the universe that there should be a great deal of extraterrestrial life in our galaxy. It also consider conspiracy theories about U.F.O.
On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, we will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris.
The Orion Nebula is a interstellar cloud situated in the Milky Way, south of Orion's Belt. In a 2-year effort, scientists create a mosaic of over 100 images at the tip of Orion's sword to discover four massive young stars. What do they tell us about how planetary systems are formed?