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Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O'Briain tell us the history of the universe by looking deep into the night sky. As they take us on journey deep into the past, they reveal how it is possible chart the story of the entire universe by looking out into space. Astronomers can probe further and further back in time by observing the stars and galaxies around us. An object a million light years away from us is seen as it was 1 million years ago and we can now observe objects that are over 13 billion light years away, so the light they emitted has been travelling towards us for almost the entire history of the universe. In Australia, Brian takes a boat journey to explain how measuring the movement of distant galaxies led to the conclusion that the universe is not only expanding - but expanding faster and faster. He reveals it's due to Dark Energy - one of the biggest mysteries in science today. At NASA, Liz Bonnin looks at some of the most advanced telescopes created and she views the construction of the remarkable James Webb Space Telescope. When it is launched in 2018 it will be able to see further, with greater clarity and detail than ever before. And astronomer Mark Thompson explains what we can deduce by carefully observing the colours of the stars in the night sky. Just like the universe, every star we see is on its own journey: from birth, through middle age, all the way to an often-spectacular end. If there is life on Mars today, it is probably no more complex than bacteria, buried beneath the harsh conditions of the surface. But as Brian explains, Mars may not always have been so inhospitable. Billions of years ago, liquid water may have flowed on the Martian surface - and so the search for evidence of life is now focused on Mars's ancient past - with NASA leading the way. In August 2012, NASA's Curiosity Rover touched down on the surface of Mars - just the latest in a long line of spacecraft and rovers to have visited the Red Planet since the 1960s. Liz Bonnin reports from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California - mission control for the Curiosity Rover and many spacecraft before it. She discovers how Curiosity was lowered onto the surface of Mars, and how its arsenal of scientific instruments will be employed to investigate the conditions in Mars's past by probing the rocks and soil on Mars today. Perhaps Curiosity could tell us whether Mars was ever a place where life could flourish. And it's not only Mars that could have harboured life - several of the moons in the solar system are also good candidates. The astronomer Mark Thompson shows us that it is possible to identify and observe some of these moons using just a small amateur telescope, just as Galileo did some four centuries ago.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Series: Stargazing live 3
Episode 2
First transmission date: 09-01-2013
Published: 2013
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:59:00
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Producer: Alan Holland
Contributors: Liz Bonnin; Alan Chapman; Ed Copeland; Brian Cox; Jo Dunkley; Richard Ellis; Fiona Harrison; John Mather; Dara O'Briain; Mark Thompson; Neil Turner
Publisher: BBC Open University
Link to related site: BBC Website:
OU Website:
Production number: FKAP802Y
Videofinder number: 83550
Available to public: no