The film, which follows a group of teens at NASA's space camp as they learn about the science and technology behind a trip to Mars, also features commentary by science popularizers Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku; astronaut Suni Williams, and Andrew Weir, author of The Martian. But it's not the grownups who make the film; none of them, with the exception of Williams, has any shot at all of walking on Mars. It's the kids, who can dream that dream, who are the deserved focus of the narrative.
The discovery of extraterrestrial life might face an impossible challenge: the physics of the universe itself; but using cutting-edge tech, experts might be on the verge of a groundbreaking find -- and the evidence could already be in hand
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).
Second Genesis follows planetary scientist Carolyn Porco as she explores what it takes to look for life beyond Earth, and what conditions are required for life to exist. Porco makes the case that Saturn’s moon Enceladus—with its plumes of water vapor spewing into space, confirmed organic materials, and evidence of hydrothermal vents at the bottom of its liquid ocean—is the most promising place to look. Could Enceladus be the key to proving once and for all that life is not unique to Earth? And what it would mean—both scientifically, and spiritually—if we found evidence of a true second genesis right here in our own galactic back yard?
2017 • Astronomy
New technologies are making rockets cheaper and more powerful than ever before. As companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic make space more accessible, and NASA returns to crewed spaceflight, a new era of space exploration may be on the horizon.