Wonders of the Solar System
|Wonders of the Solar System|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||5|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original channel||BBC Two
|Picture format||SD: 576i 16:9
|Audio format||SD: Stereo
HD: DTS-HD 5.1
|First shown in||BBC Two
|Original run||7 March 2010– 4 April 2010|
|Followed by||Wonders of the Universe (2011)|
Wonders of the Solar System is an award-winning 2010 television series co-produced by the BBC and Science Channel, and hosted by physicist Brian Cox. Wonders of the Solar System was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two on 7 March 2010. The series comprises five episodes, each of which focuses on an aspect of the Solar System and features a 'wonder' relevant to the theme. The series was described as one of the most successful to appear on BBC Two in recent years.
On 31 March 2011, the series won the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in documentary film-making.
|“||We live on a world of wonders. A place of astonishing beauty and complexity. We have vast oceans and incredible weather. Giant mountains and breath-taking landscapes.
If you think that this is all there is, that our planet exists in magnificent isolation, then you're wrong. We're part of a much wider ecosystem, that extends way beyond the top of our atmosphere.
As a physicist I'm fascinated by how the laws of nature that shaped all this, also shaped the worlds beyond our home planet.
I think we're living through the greatest age of discovery our civilisation has known. We've voyaged to the farthest reaches of the Solar System. We've photographed strange new worlds, stood in unfamiliar landscapes, tasted alien air.
—- Professor Brian Cox
1. "Empire of the Sun"
The first episode illustrates how the formation and behaviour of the Sun affects each planet in the Solar System. During this episode, Cox visits India to view and explain the workings of a total solar eclipse. The Aurora Borealis is also seen in Norway and an explanation of the power of the Sun occurs in Death Valley, California, USA.
2. "Order Out of Chaos"
Cox starts this episode in Al-Qayrawan, Tunisia to analyse the orbit of the planets around our Sun, with details on how the tilt of the Earth creates the seasons. He also visits the Atlas Mountains and provides an explanation of the how we see the orbit of Mars. This episode also provides an insight on the rings of Saturn and the geysers of Enceladus, including images shown as seen from the Cassini–Huygens space probe.
3. "The Thin Blue Line"
The third episode looks at the atmosphere of the planets and moons of the Solar System, with Earth, Mars, and Titan being the main focus. The episode starts with Cox taking a journey in an English Electric Lightning piloted by "Mike Beachy Head" up to an altitude "between 55 and 60 thousand feet" where the "thinness and fragility" of the atmosphere could be observed in the middle of the day transitioning "from light blue to dark blue to black". Later, the Namib Desert is seen and used to give an explanation on how the Earth keeps its temperature, along with comparisons made to Mars. An in-depth look at Titan is seen with footage shown from the Huygens probe descent down to the surface of the moon.
4. "Dead or Alive"
The fourth episode begins at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA, and immediate comparisons are drawn to Mars and the Valles Marineris. A trip to Kīlauea on Hawaii shows the geological activity of Earth, and again a comparison to Mars and Olympus Mons is seen. An analysis of Jupiter's gravitational effect is given with how it could potentially send an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The same gravitational force is also shown to give the Jovian moon Io geological life.
The final installment covers life surviving in extreme environments, and how the search for life on other worlds follows the search for water, focusing on Mars, and on Jupiter's moon Europa. Cox begins by travelling to the deep ocean to draw comparisons between space travel. The Atacama Desert in South America is also viewed, which is seen to explain the lack of life found there. A trip to the Scablands in North-West America is also made with an explanation of the Missoula Floods that once occurred there, and how it shaped the landscape geologically. More examinations of life come with a trip to Mexico and how life survives in caves, comparing the noxious "snottites" of a Mexican cave with possible life on Mars.
- In the United States, this programme was aired by Science Channel each Wednesday at 9pm E/P from 4 August 2010.
- In the Netherlands, this programme was aired by NTR on Nederland 2 each Sunday at 6:50pm from 17 April 2011.
- In Austria, this programme was aired by ORF 2 each Thursday at 9:05pm from 8 September 2011 with the re-worked title, Geheimnisse des Lebens (Secrets of Life).
Brian Cox from his Twitter account stated that there would be a second series, "Wonders of the Universe", with the same crew and BBC science team. It was first broadcast on 6 March 2011 in the UK. The second series has a similar basis to series one, but features the universe. The new series consisted of four episodes as opposed to the previous five.
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