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Watch "The Planets" on NOVA 24 July − 14 August

Sunday, July 21, 2019 - 20:15

This post is adapted from a WGBH-TV press release:

The award-winning science series NOVA, produced for PBS by WGBH Boston, will premiere a groundbreaking five-part miniseries, The Planets, Wednesdays, 24 July to 14 August 2019, as part of the PBS "Summer of Space." The latest major co-production from PBS and BBC Studios, the series takes viewers on a 4.5-billion-year journey through the incredible story of our solar system, brought vividly to life in stunning new detail revealed by the latest and most daring space missions.

Watch the 60-Second Teaser Video

The series is narrated by Emmy-nominated actor and producer Zachary Quinto, known for his roles as Sylar in the popular television show Heroes and Spock in the rebooted Star Trek films, and recently cast in the lead role of AMC's new supernatural horror series NOS4A2.

NOVA The Planets

In five one-hour episodes, The Planets combines dazzling CGI imagery, the latest planetary science research, and extraordinary footage captured by orbiters, landers, and rovers to reveal the beauty and grandeur of each planet like never before. The series treats viewers to an unimaginable, up-close look at awe-inspiring sights across the solar system — from haunting landscapes, to colossal weather systems, to strange environments of fantastic scale.

Each character in The Planets has a fascinating story; from the rocky inner worlds — Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars; to the massive gas giant, Jupiter; to the mysterious, ringed Saturn; to the cold, remote ice worlds — Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and beyond. What can their extreme features tell us about how our solar system formed? Can they provide clues about the possibility of life on other worlds?

"This is a drama played out on a cosmic scale. 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," said Chris Schmidt, Executive Producer for NOVA. "And, 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."

The Planets features interviews with leading scientists from the world's most renowned space missions; from the Cassini mission around Saturn; to the Voyager missions 1 and 2 to the outer solar system; to the Juno mission to Jupiter; to the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.

NOVA "The Planets: Inner Worlds" premieres Wednesday, 24 July 2019, at 9:00 pm ET on PBS (check your local listings): Meet the rocky planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. These four inner worlds closest to the Sun were all born from the same material in the same era, but they couldn't be more different. Tiny Mercury is the runt of the litter, almost like a moon. Venus is devilishly hot, and Mars is a frozen desert world. Only on Earth do we find the unique conditions for life as we know it. But why only here? Were Earth's neighbors always so extreme?

NOVA "The Planets: Mars" premieres Wednesday, 24 July 2019, at 10:00 pm ET on PBS (check your local listings): Mars, known as the "Red Planet," was once a vibrant blue water-world, home to raging rivers, active volcanoes, and even an ocean. But as the young planet's core cooled, its magnetic field and protective atmosphere faded, eventually exposing it to the wrath of the Sun. With its volcanoes extinguished and its water lost to space, Mars became the frozen desert planet we know today. With so many necessary elements in place, did life ever form here?

Special Event: Viewers in the vicinity of Boston, Massachusetts, are invited to a panel discussion at the Boston Public Library from 7:00 to 8:00 pm ET on 24 July featuring astrophysicist Dr. Anjali Tripathi, NOVA's Co-Executive Producer Chris Schmidt, and PBS NewsHour's science correspondent Miles O'Brien about the series. To attend in person respond to the online invitation. The event will also be live-streamed on the NOVA Facebook page.

NOVA "The Planets: Jupiter" premieres Wednesday, 31 July 2019, at 9:00 pm ET on PBS (check your local listings): Tyrannical Jupiter is not just the oldest planet orbiting the Sun, it's also the largest. Science suggests this marble-like gas giant barreled through the early solar system using its massive gravitational force to create havoc and destruction. But it also shaped life on Earth, delivering comets laden with water — and perhaps even the fateful asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs. Does this magnificent giant still wield its power over the fates of the other planets today?

NOVA "The Planets: Saturn" premieres Wednesday, 7 August 2019, at 9:00 pm ET on PBS (check your local listings): Nearly a billion miles from the Sun lies perhaps the most captivating and beloved planet: Saturn. Over the past 40 years, a handful of space probes have given us glimpses of Saturn. But NASA's Cassini, which explored the gas giant's realm for 13 years, delivered the most breathtaking new insights. NOVA takes viewers inside Cassini's epic journey as it makes stunning discoveries: Saturn's rings are younger than the dinosaurs and may be remnants of an ice moon. And geysers erupting ice and gas on the moon Enceladus show that it could have all the ingredients for life. But to protect it, the Cassini team makes a bittersweet decision.

NOVA "The Planets: Ice Worlds" premieres Wednesday, 14 August 2019, at 9:00 pm ET on PBS (check your local listings): Over a billion miles from the Sun, beyond the rocky inner planets and the gas giants, lie the ice worlds — Uranus and Neptune. Viewers get an up-close look inside the missions that rewrote the story of the outer solar system: NASA's Voyager missions 1 & 2 capture Neptune's supersonic winds, and rings around a tipped-over Uranus, and New Horizons' flyby of Pluto in 2015, reveals jagged ice mountains and an underground ocean and change everything scientists thought about the beloved dwarf planet. As the series concludes, we ask: what new discoveries await us in this remarkable region of the Milky Way we call home?


The Planets is a BBC Studios Production with NOVA and WGBH Boston for PBS and BBC, co-produced by Tencent Penguin Pictures, and is an Open University partnership. The series is part of a co-production deal between PBS and BBC Studios. The partnership provides a pipeline of the high-quality, entertaining factual programs that PBS and BBC audiences have come to expect. Executive Producer for NOVA is Chris Schmidt. Executive Producer for BBC Studios and Head of BBC Studios Science is Andrew Cohen. Series Producer for BBC Studios Science is Gideon Bradshaw. The Planets was commissioned for BBC One by Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual, and is overseen for PBS by Bill Gardner, Vice-President of Programming and Development. NOVA Co-Executive Producers are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of WGBH Boston. The series is distributed worldwide by BBC Studios.

National Corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
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