"This film documents an event that has never taken place – man's first encounter with intelligent life from space". We've been fantasizing about an extraterrestrial visit for decades, but what would happen if it actually took place? How would we cope? Should we be afraid? These and many other questions are addressed in this philosophical film about a hypothetical initial contact with aliens. Scientists and space affairs specialists at the UN and NASA and in the British government cooperate in this cinematic simulation of the undoubtedly exciting meeting between extraterrestrial life and humanity. The interviewees speak directly to the unknown entities as if they've already arrived. From their own fields – politics, theology, sociology, biology or space science – they ask probing questions. What are you doing here? Do you have a sense of right and wrong? Do you carry bacteria that could make us sick? Are we hazardous to your immune system? Information specialists in the British government show how a first summit in this situation could go. How do you inform the public? Will countries work together? Is there a danger involved? Above all, the alien visit raises questions about the relation between our own history of exploration, colonization and warfare, and the expectations with which we approach the unknown. This is a journey beyond terrestrial perspective, revealing the fears, hopes, and rituals of a species forced not only to confront alien life forms, but also its own self image.
In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 captured the iconic 'Blue Marble': the first photograph ever taken by an astronaut of the entire Earth. This photo had a profound effect on our perception of ourselves. Since then, Nasa has taken millions more. In this epic, powerful and revelatory documentary, a new generation of astronauts, including Tim Peake, use those images of the Earth from space to reveal the astonishing transformation humanity has wrought in the 45 years since 'Blue Marble'. Together, the astronauts provide an armchair tour of the change they've witnessed from orbit, as humankind etches our presence on the planet. Using stunning time-lapse sequences, the programme reveals how we are reshaping our world, for better and for worse: from the sprawling megacities of China to vast desert farms in the Middle East and from the melting snowcap of Kilimanjaro to giant solar arrays in Nevada.
2017 • Astronomy
NASA's Juno probe has been orbiting the largest planet on our Solar System, the gas giant Jupiter, since July 4, 2016. As the February 2017 closest-to-the-planet flyby approaches, what secrets has its moon, Juno, revealed thus far and how has a simple valve altered a decade of planning?
Astronomers make an extraordinary discovery when they uncover a cosmic mega-structure that's one billion light-years long, and now investigators race to decode the hidden forces that shape the most massive and mysterious structure known in the Universe.
A new age of space exploration, and exploitation, is dawning. But surprisingly, some of the boldest efforts at putting humans into space are now those of private companies started by a handful of maverick billionaire businessmen. Brian Cox gains exclusive access behind the scenes at Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and Spaceport America, exploring what is really happening in privately financed space flight right now. From space tourism to asteroid mining, and even dreams of colonies on Mars, these new masters of the universe refuse to limit their imaginations. But are private companies led by Jeff Bezos, Sir Richard Branson and Elon Musk really going to be able to pull this off? How will they overcome the technical challenges to achieve it? And is it really a good idea, or just a fool's errand? Cox meets key players in the story - Bezos, founder of Blue Origin as well as Amazon, and Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. He wants to find out how entrepreneurs - and engineers - really plan to overcome the daunting challenges of human space travel. It certainly hasn't been easy so far. Jeff Bezos has sold a further billion dollars of Amazon stock this year to fund Blue Origin. Branson has been working on Galactic for more than a decade. Lives have been lost. And some companies have already all but given up. But real progress has been made too. The origins of the new space boom, the X-prize in 2004, proved that reusable space craft could be built by private enterprise. Now the challenge is to work out how to run reliable, safe, affordable services that will show a return on the massive financial investments. Sixteen years since Dennis Tito became the first civilian in space, Cox explores the hardware and companies that are aiming to make daily tourist flights to space. Beyond mass space travel, and even space mining and manufacturing, the dream of Elon Musk and others is true space exploration. His company, SpaceX, already delivers supplies to the International Space Station, and their next step is delivering astronauts too. But their true ambition is to ensure the survival of the human race by crossing our solar system and colonizing Mars in the next decade. Could commercial spaceflight companies eventually make us a space-faring civilization?
2017 • Astronomy
Now that gravitational waves are definitely a thing, it’s time to think about some of the crazy things we can figure out with them. In some cases we’re going to need a gravitational wave observatory - in fact, we've already built one.
In 1961 when President Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, no rocket existed with the power or capability to rise to the challenge. In order to win the race to space, the United States would need to establish a multi-billion dollar space program. One man, Werner Von Braun believed he had the knowledge and vision to make Kennedy's dream a reality.This is the story of the most powerful machine ever built, and the men and women who believed it could fly.
2014 • Astronomy