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Tour the Solar System with Zachary Quinto on PBS' Nova Series

Our solar system will get "Star Trek" treatment when movie star Zachary Quinto — also known as Spock — narrates a new PBS-BBC Studios Nova series, "The Planets." The five-part series airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. CDT) starting today (July 24).

The series will give viewers a glimpse of the eight planets of our solar system, as well as some other worlds you might recognize — famous moons like Europa or Titan and dwarf planets like Pluto. The series pulls together footage from orbiters, landers and rovers spread across the solar system, combined with planetary science research and computer-generated imagery.

"This is a drama played out on a cosmic scale," Chris Schmidt, executive producer for NOVA, said in a statement. "In five gripping stories, we journey through each planet's past and present, weaving through plot twists as they make their way through time and space."

Related: Our Solar System: A Photo Tour of the Planets 

"Using the latest scientific research, we look forward billions of years at what the future might hold for these faraway worlds — and ask questions about the fate of our own planet, Earth," Schmidt said.

The series will also include many planetary scientists talking about missions such as the Juno mission at Jupiter, the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn, the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft that have both breached interstellar space, and New Horizons — which visited two worlds already (including Pluto) and will perhaps see another one up close before ending operations. 

Some of the many interviewees will include Linda Spilker, project scientist for Cassini; Heidi Becker, Juno's radiation monitoring investigation lead; Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the Spirit and Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover missions; and Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons.

"The Planets" is just one of many airing for PBS' "Summer of Space," which will showcase stories from around the solar system on television and online. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.