Follow Dr. Ben Longmier and his team into the rugged Alaskan wilderness on a quest to build a whole new type of rocket engine. Their goal is to test sensitive components by launching them into radiation-filled environments of space aboard helium balloons. Their goal is to revolutionize space travel and exploration by harnessing the energy contained in the dynamic fourth state of matter: plasma.
A billion miles from home, running low on fuel, and almost out of time. After 13 years traversing the Saturn system, the spacecraft Cassini is plunging to a fiery death, becoming part of the very planet it has been exploring. As it embarks on its final assignment - a one-way trip into the heart of Saturn - Horizon celebrates the incredible achievements and discoveries of a mission that has changed the way we see the solar system. Strange new worlds with gigantic ice geysers, hidden underground oceans that could harbour life and a brand new moon coalescing in Saturn's magnificent rings. As the world says goodbye to the great explorer Cassini, Horizon will be there for with a ringside seat for its final moments.
From the mission that saw Pluto for the first time to the Mars rovers, a new breed of explorers are risking their careers, and even their lives, to lead humanity to worlds we have never seen and tackle the mysteries of life itself.
Four astronomers celebrate 50 years of work and friendship by going on a road trip to revisit some of the world's greatest observatories. In California, a world leader in observational astronomy at a time when America's space programme was at its height, the astronomers spent their formative years developing friendships that would last a lifetime, and making scientific discoveries that would change the course of history. Together they represent the most productive period astronomy has ever had. Their journey through the southwestern United States allows them to see once again the places and landscape they explored as young men. Now in their 70s, they share their reflections on a life spent looking at the universe. Star Men celebrates the history of stargazing: the inventions and discoveries that have enabled us to learn so much about the universe, but more importantly to understand how much more we have yet to discover.
2016 • Astronomy
Prof Jim Al-Khalili tackles the biggest subject of all, the universe, through a series of critical observations and experiments that revolutionised our understanding of our world. In this second part, Professor Jim Al-Khalili carries us into the distant future to try to discover how the universe will end - with a bang or a whimper? He reveals a universe far stranger than anyone imagined and, at the frontier of our understanding, encounters a mysterious and enigmatic force that promises to change physics forever.
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
We’ve covered a lot of incredible stuff, but this week we’re talking about the weirdest objects in space: BLACK HOLES. Stellar mass black holes form when a very massive star dies, and its core collapses. The core has to be more than about 2.8 times the Sun’s mass to form a black hole. Black holes come in different sizes, but for all of them, the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, so nothing can escape, not matter or light. They don’t wander the Universe gobbling everything down around them; their gravity is only really intense very close to them. Tides near a stellar mass black hole will spaghettify you, and time slows down when you get near a black hole — not that this helps much if you’re falling in.