From its highest mountains to its deepest oceans, our world has challenged explorers of every generation to reach further and seek what lies beyond the horizon. Century upon century, the lure of the unknown has taken humans to every corner of the globe and it has given us a view of Earth that our ancestors could barely imagine. Now, the drive to explore is leading us upward and outward – off our own planet and out into the solar system where a host of alien worlds offers us vast new terrains to uncover. We roam this territory today, not with our material bodies, but with our robot surrogates, which we have flung through the brutal vacuum and sent plunging into conditions more extreme than any astronaut could endure. Today we see the sun, moon and planets with penetrating clarity – not through human eyes, but through the eyes of the intrepid machines that are blazing a trail for us across the solar system. Their cameras have become our windows onto a bold new adventure. The latest missions to the sun and planets are providing images so crisp and spectacular it is like peering through a window at another world. But make no mistake; these images are more than just pretty pictures of nature. The increasingly sophisticated and detailed views are shaping our understanding of who we are, where we came from and where we are going. The underlying message of this series is that we are witnessing an unprecedented new age of exploration.
Part 1: Hubbles Renaissance
Thanks to a dramatic repair mission, the Hubble Space Telescope has another chance to capture more stunning pictures like only it can.
Part 2: Superscopes
Gigantic telescopes of the future with multiple mirrors working in unison like the Spitzer Space Telescope, will see further than the Hubble Space Telescope, and possibly get our first pictures ever of another planet than can support life as we know it.
Part 3: Cosmic Rainbow
In the world of astronomy, how do we overcome the limits imposed by our own eyesight? The universe comes alive by viewing the cosmos in infrared light to gamma radiation.
Part 4: Stargazers Paradise
High in the mountains and far removed from the light pollution of big cities, the Atacama Desert in Chile provides some of the best views on earth of the night sky. Advanced telescopes gather images that rival, and sometimes surpass the Hubble Space Telescope.
Part 5: Night Fire
The Northern Lights are more than just beautiful. They tell us about the make up of our planet, our sun, and may even be a signpost for the possibility of life on other planets.
Part 6: Virtual Universe
Computer simulations are helping us see what it’s like to fly over other worlds and how galaxies interact over millions of years.