Around the world, a new generation of astronomers are hunting for the most mysterious objects in the universe. Young stars, black holes, even other forms of life. They have created a dazzling new set of super-telescopes that promise to rewrite the story of the heavens. This film follows the men and women who are pushing the limits of science and engineering in some of the most extreme environments on earth. But most strikingly of all, no-one really knows what they will find out there.
Horizon goes behind the scenes at NASA as they countdown to the landing of a 2.5 billion-dollar rover on the surface of Mars. In six days time, the nuclear-powered vehicle - the size of a car - will be winched down onto the surface of the Red Planet from a rocket-powered crane. That's if things go according to plan: Mars has become known as the Bermuda Triangle of space because so many missions there have ended in failure. The Curiosity mission is the most audacious - and expensive - attempt to answer the question: is there life on Mars?
Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. The gas giant is NOT a failed star, but a really successful planet! It has a dynamic atmosphere with belts and zones, as well as an enormous red spot that’s actually a persistent hurricane. Jupiter is still warm from its formation, and has an interior that’s mostly metallic hydrogen, and it may not even have a core.
We reveal the planetary enigmas on our doorstep and embark on the New Horizons voyage to photograph Pluto. Will our encounter with this tiny ball of ice and rock and the trillions of icy objects beyond it paint a clearer picture of how the planets came to be?
Astronaut Mike Massimino explores the incredible new alien planets being found daily by astronomers; using the latest science, he investigates everything from worlds that appear to eat light to planets that resemble Earth in shocking ways.