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."
"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.
- Jupiter's Great Red Spot: Photos of the Solar System's Biggest Storm
- Photos of Venus, the Mysterious Planet Next Door
- Voyager at 40: 40 Photos from NASA's Epic 'Grand Tour' Mission
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace