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Super Telescope: Mission to the Edge of the Universe

   2022    Technology
As NASA releases the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, this film tells the inside story of the telescope's construction and the astronomers taking its first picture of distant stars and galaxies. Will it be the deepest image of our universe ever taken? The successor to Hubble, and 100 times more powerful, the James Webb is the most technically advanced telescope ever built. It will look further back in time than Hubble to an era around 200 million years after the Big Bang, when the first stars and galaxies appeared. Webb's primary mission is to capture the faint light from these objects on the edge of our visible universe so that scientists can learn how they formed, but its instruments are so sensitive it could also be the first telescope to detect signs of life on a distant planet.
The James Webb Telescope is an £8 billion gamble on the skills of its engineering team. It’s the first telescope designed to unfold in space – a complicated two-week operation in which 178 release devices must all work - 107 of them on the telescope's sun shield alone. If just one fails, the expensive telescope could become a giant piece of space junk.
From its conception in the late 1980s, the construction of Webb has posed a huge technical challenge. The team must build a mirror six times larger than Hubble’s and construct a vast sun shield the size of a tennis court, fold them up so they fit into an Ariane 5 rocket, then find a way to unfold them in space. This film tells the inside story of the James Webb Space Telescope in the words of the engineers who built it and the astronomers who will use it.

Frozen South

   2022    Nature
Antarctica is the most hostile of all earth’s frozen worlds. Yet even here, amongst some of the most challenging conditions on the planet, life finds a way not just to survive, but thrive.
Our journey begins at the far edge of the continent, on its far-flung sub-Antarctic islands. Here we meet king penguins that, to feed at sea, must face the danger of ferocious leopard seals lurking in the shallows. On another island, we witness for the first time male Antipodean wandering albatross partnering up with each other as the females in their population are disappearing due to fishing activity.
Heading towards the continent of Antarctica, we traverse the roughest seas on earth - the Southern Ocean - where we find the rarely filmed Antarctic blue whale, the largest animal to have ever lived. At the edge of Antarctica, the sea is so cold that it freezes over, creating a vital ice platform for a mother Weddell seal to raise her precious pup. Still, she needs to protect him from aggressive males.
In spring, the coast of Antarctica is free of snow, drawing in thousands of breeding chinstrap penguins. Stones are at a premium to build their elevated nests and protect chicks from meltwater. But stealing is commonplace, and to make matters worse, with climate change we find chicks today shivering with hypothermia – a warming Antarctica means increased meltwater. Other residents are facing an uncertain future too, including wave-washing killer whales. We discover that their favourite prey, Weddell seals, are now harder to reach, so instead they are resorting to targeting much more feisty prey, including leopard seals, an apex predator in its own right. This dramatic encounter has never been filmed before.
Travelling into the interior of the continent - into the frozen heart of Antarctica - we find great surprises. This is one of the most volcanic regions on earth, and one of the driest. We reveal unexpected sand dunes, hidden in a rare ice-free valley. Then, on the exposed mountain tops, sticking out from the otherwise ice-covered interior, we find tiny snow petrels, which raise their chicks further south than any other bird, and defend their territory by projectile vomiting!
The greatest revelation lies deep in the interior, beneath the surface of an ice-covered lake, where we discover ancient alien-like structures - giant stromatolites - built by primitive lifeforms. If life can make it here, in the extremes of Antarctica, it raises the possibility that life can exist elsewhere, including in the frozen lakes of distant planets.
Series: Frozen Planet II

Our Frozen Planet

   2022    Nature
Our frozen planet is changing. In this final episode, we meet the scientists and people dedicating their lives to understanding what these changes mean, not just for the animals and people who live there, but for the world as a whole.
Our journey begins in the Arctic, where every summer huge quantities of ice calve from the edges of Greenland’s melting glaciers. On top of the ice cap itself, glaciologist Alun Hubbard descends into a moulin to try to understand the mechanisms that are driving this historic loss of ice.
Elsewhere in the Arctic, it’s not just land ice that is disappearing. In the Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada, biologists are trying to find out how the loss of sea ice will impact the lives of baby harps. In Arctic Russia, with the loss of summer sea ice, more and more polar bears are arriving on the island of Wrangel. Here, a local ranger and scientists are braving the hungry bears to assess their future survival.
Loss of sea ice impacts not just wildlife but people too. In the remote community of Qaanaaq, Greenland, local Inuit hunters are finding the ice too dangerous to travel and hunt on, risking their traditional way of life. And these changes happening in the Arctic have the potential to affect people far beyond. On Alaska’s open tundra, bubbling lakes hint at the gases being released from the previously frozen soil, including the potent greenhouse gas methane.
There is one place where the full scale of a melting Arctic can be best witnessed - from space. Based in the International Space Station, astronaut Jessica Meir looks down at forest fires across Europe and reflects how our changing weather patterns are interconnected.
Rapid ice loss is also happening across the high mountains of the planet’s continents. Glaciologist Hamish Pritchard uses a sophisticated helicopter-strung radar system to try to quantify how much ice is left in the previously uncharted glaciers of the Himalayas. It’s important as, downstream, some 1.2 billion people rely on glacial meltwater as their primary source of fresh water.
Finally, in Antarctica, we meet Bill Fraser, who has dedicated 45 years of his life to studying the Adelie penguin. Over this period, he has witnessed changes in weather conditions and the extinction of entire colonies. These ‘canaries in the coal mine’ are a sign that all is not well, even in the remotest place on earth. And changes here have the potential to affect all of us, so an international group of scientists is on an urgent mission to assess the stability of a huge body of ice known as the Thwaites ice shelf. If this plug of ice melts and slips into the ocean, it will raise global sea levels, impacting coastal communities across the planet.
The unprecedented changes our scientists are witnessing may be profound, but there is hope that, through a combination of technology and willpower, there is still time to save what remains of our frozen planet.
Series: Frozen Planet II

The Rescue

   2021    History
The Rescue chronicles the enthralling, against-all-odds story that transfixed the world in 2018: the daring rescue of twelve boys and their coach from deep inside a flooded cave in Northern Thailand.
Using a wealth of never-before-seen material and exclusive interviews, filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin keep viewers on the edge of their seats as they bring alive one of the most perilous and extraordinary rescues in modern times, shining a light on the high-risk world of cave diving, the astounding courage and compassion of the rescuers, and the shared humanity of the international community that united to save the boys.

Pluto: Back From the Dead

   2020    Science
The incredible story of how Pluto has been propelled from an unremarkable ball of ice on the edge of the solar system to a world of unimaginable complexity - where some form of alien life might exist.
New discoveries from the edge of the solar system are transforming what is known about Pluto, thanks to the New Horizons space probe that took the first-ever close up images of the planet. Pluto was once thought to be geologically dead, but the pictures revealed it to be an active world of stunning complexity, with mountains carved from ice, a nitrogen glacier that appeared to be moving and a recently active volcano, with data sent back lead some scientists to speculate that there may even be life on Pluto today.
Series: Space Deepest Secrets

Bear Woodlands

   2020    Nature
In the boreal forests of Europe, a young brown bear clashes with wolves and tries to find a mate beneath the stars. On the edge of the Arctic Circle, lies an enchanted wilderness. In Europe's boreal forest, It's so far north that in winter, nights can last 20 hours. This woodland is home to a population of secretive bears that lives most of their lives in the dark. But now, using low-light cameras we can see their nighttime world as if it were day.
Series: Earth at Night in Color
Seven Ages of Rock

Seven Ages of Rock

2007  Art
Universe

Universe

2021  Science
Untold

Untold

2021  Culture
Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland

2019  Culture
Tales by Light Season 2

Tales by Light Season 2

2017  Nature
Minimalism

Minimalism

2015  Culture
The Sky at Night

The Sky at Night

2020  Science