On a bright, cold morning on 15th February 2013, a meteorite ripped across the skies above the Ural mountains in Russia, distintegrating into three pieces and exploding with the force of 20 Hiroshimas. It was a stark reminder that the Earth's journey through space is fraught with danger. A day later, another much larger 143,000 tonne asteroid passed within just 17,000 miles of the Earth. Presented by Professor Iain Stewart, this film explores what meteorites and asteroids are, where they come from, the danger they pose and the role they have played in Earth's history.
The United States and China are considering launching manned missions to Mars -- in 25 years. But Netherlands-based Mars One has a bold plan to land humans on Mars in 2027. Is the mission fuelled by wishful thinking and unproven science -- or will private explorations get us there?
Professor Brian Cox explores the powerhouse of them all, the sun. In India he witnesses a total solar eclipse and in Norway, he watches the battle between the sun's wind and Earth, as the night sky glows with the northern lights. Beyond earth, the solar wind continues, creating dazzling aurora on other planets.
Saturn is the crown jewel of the solar system, beautiful and fascinating. It is a gas giant, and has a broad set of rings made of ice particles. Moons create gaps in the rings via their gravity. Saturn has dozens of moons, including Titan, which is as big as Mercury and has a thick atmosphere and lakes of methane; and Enceladus which has an undersurface ocean and eruptions of water geysers. While we are still uncertain, it is entirely possible that either or both moons may support life.
While Jupiter is nowhere near massive enough to initiate fusion in its core, there are even more massive objects out there that fall just short of that achievement as well called brown dwarfs. Brown dwarfs, have a mass that places them between giant planets and small stars. They were only recently discovered in the 1990’s, but thousands are now known. More massive ones can fuse deuterium, and even lithium, but not hydrogen, distinguishing them from “normal” stars. Sort of.
Brilliantly narrated by film and television legend Sir Patrick Stewart, Journey To Space gives a sweeping overview of humanity’s accomplishments in space, as well as our ongoing activities and future plans. Journey To Space puts into historical context the magnificent contributions made by the Space Shuttle program and its intrepid space pioneers. It uses the most spectacular space footage – including unique views of Earth and operations in space – such as deploying and repairing the Hubble Space Telescope. It then goes on to show how the shuttle launched and assembled the International Space Station (ISS). Together, these programs have taught us how to live, build and conduct scientific experiments in space. The ISS will continue operating in space until 2024, and the film shows how it is building a foundation for the next giant leaps into space, concluding with a fascinating, realistic scenario of how astronauts will actually get to Mars, live there for long durations, and then return home after a two-and-a-half-year mission.
2015 • Astronomy