The air around us is not just empty space; it is an integral part of the chemistry of life. Plants are made from carbon dioxide, nitrogen nourishes the soil and oxygen gives us the energy we need to keep our hearts pumping and our brains alive. But how did we come to understand what air is made of? How did we come to know that this invisible stuff around us contains anything at all?
Between the blue sky above and the infinite blackness beyond lies a frontier that scientists have only just begun to investigate. In "At the Edge of Space," NOVA takes viewers on a spectacular exploration of the Earth-space boundary that's home to some of nature's most puzzling and alluring phenomena: the shimmering aurora, streaking meteors, and fleeting flashes that shoot upwards from thunderclouds, known as sprites.
(PART 2) A team of experts and explorers venture into the Danakil desert in Northern Ethiopia to investigate the incredible geology of the area, and to find out how the people and their animals survive in the hottest place on earth. Kate Humble investigates how tough life is for an Afar woman; Steve Leonard wants to learn about the relationship between the Afar and their animals, and to help with animal medicine where he can; Dr Mukul Agarwal looks at the health issues faced in this most hostile of environments; earth scientist Dougal Jerram looks at the extraordinary volcanic activity of the region and the part it plays in the bigger geological picture of the Rift Valley; and biologist Richard Wiese searches for extreme life forms in the boiling soil of a massive volcanic fissure.