A new animated TV show from Disney Junior is letting the imaginations of young space fans of tomorrow run wild through the universe, and it's even trying to teach them a little space science along the way.
The show "Miles from Tomorrowland" follows the adventures of Miles, his family and his pet robotic ostrich as they tool around the cosmos in their interstellar starship. The Callisto family roams the universe going on missions and helping people in trouble. The show also comes with a built-in element of education thanks in part to two consultants charged with helping craft a science-based world for Miles and his family.
"As a young, impressionable person, stories that have good values to them — never give up, that science and technology can help us and make life better … that you can be part of this whole thing — those are really important stories," John Spencer, one of the "Miles" consultants, said. [10 Space Movies to Watch in 2015]
Spencer, the founder of the Space Tourism Society, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Randii Wessen helped the "Miles from Tomorrowland" team craft the show. Spencer spoke with the team to help them build a positive vision of the future of space travel, and Wessen provides advice about how best to represent actual science in the animated world of the show.
The first episode of the series follows the Callisto family to Jupiter's volcanic moon Io, where Miles and his family need to save an ice cream salesman's shuttle from falling to the planet's hot surface. The creators of the show embed these science facts into the fabric of the show.
"It's something that I like to refer to as 'learning inadvertently, where you just kind of put these things in there just as a backdrop," Wessen — who consulted on each episode of the first season of "Miles" — told Space.com.
Wessen doesn't try to make the entire world scientifically sound, but he does try to add as much real science into the show without getting in the way of the story. For example, while the family might not float around in zero-gravity on their starship, other characters do float if the vessel's gravity is turned off. Although that isn't technologically possible now, Wessen doesn't necessarily think it's absolutely impossible that humans could invent that kind of tech someday.
Spencer spent a good amount of time speaking with the "Miles from Tomorrowland" creators about what the future of spaceflight and humanity could look like. The show could also help kids learn more about tolerance and family values, while instilling a positive view of the future, according to Spencer.
"The fact that they [the characters on the show] are dealing with different aliens … that kind of stuff builds an awareness to be tolerant to people, that diversity, different people, different creatures are fine," Spencer told Space.com. "What can you learn from them? These are important building blocks for creating a healthy view of the future. To me, that's the most important part of a show like 'Miles,' is a healthy view of the future."
"Miles" is also jumping off the small screen and into the real world through a new line of toys set for release in August. Disney has also released a "Miles from Tomorrowland" app that allows kids of all ages to control Miles on one of his adventures through the universe. You can download the app on iTunes now: https://itunes.apple.com/app/miles-from-tomorrowland-missions/id949773510 (opens in new tab)
You can check out "Miles from Tomorrowland" on the Disney Channel. Check local listings.