As Nasa releases the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, this film tells the inside story of the telescope's construction and the astronomers taking its first picture of distant stars and galaxies. Will it be the deepest image of our universe ever taken? The successor to Hubble, and 100 times more powerful, the James Webb is the most technically advanced telescope ever built. It will look further back in time than Hubble to an era around 200 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies appeared. Webb's primary mission is to capture the faint light from these objects on the edge of our visible universe so that scientists can learn how they formed, but its instruments are so sensitive it could also be the first telescope to detect signs of life on a distant planet. The James Webb Telescope is an ?8 billion gamble on the skills of its engineering team. It’s the first telescope designed to unfold in space – a complicated two-week operation in which 178 release devices must all work - 107 of them on the telescope's sun shield alone. If just one fails, the expensive telescope could become a giant piece of space junk. From its conception in the late 1980s, the construction of Webb has posed a huge technical challenge. The team must build a mirror six times larger than Hubble’s and construct a vast sun shield the size of a tennis court, fold them up so they fit into an Ariane 5 rocket, then find a way to unfold them in space. This film tells the inside story of the James Webb Space Telescope in the words of the engineers who built it and the astronomers who will use it.
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We’re going back to the moon. This episode explores how we did it in the past and how and why we will do it again. The moon is critical to future exploration. It will be where we learn to build sustainable colonies on other worlds.
Even with a surface temperature of -180C, Saturn's moon, Titan, could be another Earth. There's evidence of dunes made of quantities of organic material that could contain the building blocks for DNA. Astrobiologists are conducting studies on the possibility that life could be present on Titan.
12 • Cosmic Front • 2014 • Astronomy
There is a hellish planet in our solar system; covered in thick dense clouds and roasted by colossal temperatures. Incredibly this is a vision of Earth's future. To understand how our world will be destroyed we need to look at Earth's evil twin Venus.
S4E2 • How the Universe Works • 2015 • Astronomy
We don't yet know where the edge of the universe is or what happens there; but thanks to cutting-edge technology and new discoveries, experts might finally reveal the secrets of the phenomena that can be found in deepest reaches of the cosmos.
S8E7 • How the Universe Works • 2020 • Astronomy
Straddling the night sky, the Milky Way reminds us of our place in the galaxy we call home. But what shaped this giant spiral of stars and what will be its destiny? NOVA travels back in time to unlock the turbulent story of our cosmic neighborhood.
S1E2 • Nova: Universe Revealed • 2021 • Astronomy
Scientists are only now starting to unravel the secrets of comets. Often referred to as dirty snowballs, they contain ice and elements from the very start of the universe. Some theorize that a comet, crashing into our planet, brought with it the organic material that started life on Earth. Spacecraft continues to offer new information on their makeup, from bringing back samples from a comet's tail to direct contact when a NASA-launched craft slammed into the comet Tempel-1.
Planet Science • 2007 • Astronomy