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A Traveler’s Guide to the Planets

Sunday, August 1, 2010 , Posted by ebizar at 1:33 AM

It’s the ultimate in adventure travel, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Today’s super space traveler must endure drastic climates that shift from 840 degrees in the sun to minus 275 degrees in the shade, crushing gravity, acid smog, and blistering radiation.

But the sights – from Jupiter’s churning red eye to Saturn’s glittering rings – are out of this world. Blast-off with A Traveler’s Guide To The Planets, National Geographic Channel’s ultimate travel guide to the Solar System. Learn what to pack, which planet has the best sights, and where to park the rover.

In each one hour episode, see stunning images of each planet including highly detailed images captured by today’s ultra high-tech telescopes. Advanced animation takes you up close and personal with these distant worlds, as we plunge through space to get a better look at the neighbors.

Then, travel with NASA experts to extreme environments on our own planet like Chile’s Atacama Desert or Hawaii’s volcanoes that are providing scientists with valuable insights into what a trip to one of our planetary neighbors might be like. And see the next generation of space probes as they are prepared for upcoming missions that may bring the dream of interplanetary travel even closer than ever.

1. Venus and Mercury. Temperatures on tiny Mercury can reach a blistering 800 degrees Fahrenheit. And on Venus, temperatures are hot enough to melt lead. Take in the sights on Mercury, where the planet’s sunny side offers travelers a stunning view of solar flares as they work on their tans. A visit to our sister planet Venus’ tortured scenery means diving into an atmosphere where acid smog eats bare metal for breakfast.

2. Mars. Named Mars in honor of the Roman god of war, the Red Planet has captivated earthlings for thousands of years. Now, rocket to the Red Planet for a stunning tour of the scenery, from giant volcanoes to mighty canyons. Here, travelers will enjoy a low-gravity environment that gives them super jumping abilities. The only downside? A complete lack of breathable atmosphere.

3. Jupiter. A dive below the clouds reveals the planet’s strange secret: It’s really more like a star in composition. See what today’s bigger and better telescopes are revealing about the moons in Jupiter’s extraordinary kingdom, from Io, a spicy world of fire and brimstone, to Europa, where a warm, salty ocean hides beneath the surface.

4. Saturn. From Earth, Saturn’s rings appear solid, but they are actually made up of chunks of rock and ice. They look spectacular, but navigating around them – and the planet’s more than 60 moons – would be a nightmare for travelers. We travel through the rings for a stunning CGI tour of this gaseous giant.

5. Neptune and Uranus. Head into the ice zone to learn the secrets of two world’s which are impossible to fathom. Uranus, an icy gas giant with an atmosphere composed of a cosmic cocktail of hydrogen, helium and methane, is so distant from the sun that it takes 84 years to orbit the sun. Neptune, its vibrantly blue neighbor, takes nearly twice that long. Rocket to the far reaches of the solar system, where a trip to these remote worlds has long been a mystery tour.

6. Pluto and Beyond. Pluto is so far away from Earth that it is a mere pinprick of light in our powerful telescopes. Locked in a gravitational dance with its largest moon Charon, this frozen outpost is simply the first discovered body in an unseen swarm of icy worlds. Learn what it would take for humans to journey to the uncharted limits of our solar neighborhood and what NASA scientists think we’ll find when we get there.

Watch the full documentary now (playlist contains all 6 episodes, each 1hr long)

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