NOVA: The Planets

(Rochester, NY) - NOVA: The Planets, a five-part series airing on Wednesday, July 24 through August 14 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV tells the spectacular story of our solar system — a narrative spanning billions of years — through the eyes of the latest and most daring space missions ever mounted. Over five hour-long episodes, The Planet brings the eight worlds that populate our solar system vividly to life, combining accurate and detailed imagery, the latest planetary science research, and extraordinary footage captured by orbiters, landers and rovers to piece together the gripping history of each planet. Using stunning special effects, the series treats viewers to an up-close look at these faraway planets, capturing truly awe-inspiring sights from haunting landscapes, to colossal weather systems, to strange environments of fantastic scale and beauty.

Viewers meet the tragic character, Mars — once a vibrant water world boasting waterfalls four times the height of any on Earth, but destined to become the barren, cold desert world it is today. Did life once evolve in its ancient oceans? What role did the sun play in the fate of Mars and the other rocky worlds – Mercury, Venus and Earth? Then, there’s the story of tyrannical Jupiter, which science suggests wandered through the early solar system using its enormous mass to create havoc and destruction that could have prevented Earth from forming. Does this magnificent giant, the solar system’s oldest and largest planet, still wield its power over the fates of the other planets today?

The series continues its journey on to Saturn’s 175,000-mile-wide rings; to the mysterious ice giant, Uranus; and all the way out to the lonely, mysterious Neptune — the last planet in the cold, remote reaches of our solar system, where winds blow 12 times stronger than the raging hurricanes felt on Earth. 

Then, it’s off to the Kuiper Belt – home to Pluto and countless other enigmatic objects. Viewers explore what it’s like to stand on the dark side of our favorite dwarf planet, Pluto, as it eclipses a tiny, distant star – our sun. As the series concludes, we ask: what new discoveries await us in this remarkable region of the Milky Way we call home? 

The series features interviews with leading scientists from the world’s most renowned space missions, from the Cassini mission around Saturn, to the Voyager Missions 1 and 2 to the outer solar system, to the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. Featured experts include Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity Project Scientist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL); Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist at NASA’s JPL; and many more.  

Photo: Planets
Credit: Courtesy of BDH Creative

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