SPACE NIGHT ON PBS
November 20th is Space Night on PBS, featuring 3 back-to-back space programs: NOVA "At the Edge of Space", NOVA "Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?", and COMET ENCOUNTER.
NOVA: At the Edge of Space: Between the blue sky above us and the infinite blackness of space lies a frontier full of enigmas that scientists have only just begun to investigate. “At the Edge of Space” takes viewers on a spectacular exploration to probe the earth-space boundary zone, home to some of nature’s most puzzling and alluring phenomena: the shimmering aurora, streaking meteors, and fleeting flashes that shoot upwards from thunderclouds, known as sprites. Discovered in 1989, sprites have eluded capture because they flicker into existence for a mere split-second — 40 times faster than an eye blink. NOVA rides with scientists in a high-flying weather observation plane as they hunt for sprites and finally succeed in snaring them in 3D video, gaining vital clues to unravel their mystery. NOVA also combines advanced video technology with stunning sequences shot from the International Space Station.
NOVA: Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?: The asteroid that exploded in the skies over Siberia injuring more than 1,000 and damaging buildings in six cities was a shocking reminder that Earth is a target in a cosmic shooting range. From the width of a football field to the size of a small city, these space rocks have the potential to be killers. In a collision with Earth, they could set off deadly blast waves, raging fires and colossal tidal waves. But some audacious entrepreneurs look at asteroids and see payday, not doomsday. Some asteroids are loaded with billions of dollars’ worth of elements like iron, nickel and even platinum. While NASA plans an ambitious mission to return samples from a potentially hazardous asteroid, would-be asteroid miners are dreaming up their own program to scout for potentially profitable asteroids. Will asteroids turn out to be our economic salvation — or instruments of extinction?
Comet Encounter: In this program, scientists around the world follow a once-in-a-lifetime event, the path of the sun-grazing comet ISON. The comet, somewhere between one and 10 kilometers in diameter, is currently just beyond the orbit of Jupiter. As it races past Earth toward the sun, it will likely develop a tail to light up the night skies. Then ISON will slingshot around the back of the sun, to emerge perhaps brighter than ever. But there’s jeopardy, too; ISON could evaporate completely, or the sun’s gravity could tear it apart, producing a so-called “string of pearls” – several small comets arching across the night sky. Don’t miss the breathtaking images captured in this special.
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