The Expanding Universe • Director | Producer
In 1998, two independent teams of astrophysicists discovered a baffling phenomenon: the Universe is expanding at an ever-faster rate. The current understanding of gravity can't explain this cosmic acceleration. Scientists think that either a mysterious force called dark energy is to blame—or a reworking of gravitational theory is in order. Travel to the University of California's Lick Observatory to learn how astrophysicists use distant stellar explosions to observe the expansion of space. Then watch a team at Fermilab assemble the Dark Energy Camera, a new device researchers hope will find compelling evidence of what's propelling the Universe to expand at an increasing pace.
Mt Hamilton, CA and Warrenville, IL
Curiosity - Searching for Carbon • Director | Producer
The Curiosity rover is seeking environments on Mars that could support life—or could have in the past. Earlier Mars missions found signs of water, but not organic carbon—life’s essential building block. Watch the Curiosity team prepare to hunt for carbon at Mount Sharp, which holds a geologic record hundreds of millions of years old.
Wise: Focus on Infinity • Director | Producer
On September 30, 2010, a NASA space telescope called the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, completed its sweeping goal: to record observations of the entire sky in infrared light. The WISE science team is now sifting through the telescope's two million images to spot objects that no astronomer has ever seen before. WISE's most intriguing finds will include mysterious objects called brown dwarfs, blacker-than-coal asteroids, and the Universe's brightest galaxies. All told, WISE's data will yield a new picture of the Universe, from our local region to the remotest reaches, and from the distant past to the present.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA
Seeing Planets Like Never Before • Director | Producer
Astronomers have located more than 1,000 planets orbiting stars other than our own, and the latest observations are starting to reveal what these planets are like. The American Museum of Natural History's Project 1640 is at the forefront of this research. The project’s advanced telescope instrumentation can spot chemical fingerprints that will help characterize how exoplanets form, evolve, and differ from familiar planets closer to home.
Palomar Mountain, CA
SOFIA: Stars and the Space Between • Director | Producer
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy—SOFIA—is the only airborne telescope in the world. Infrared imaging of stars and planets is difficult from ground-based observatories because water vapor in Earth's lower atmosphere blocks most infrared radiation. SOFIA operates from a modified Boeing 747, soaring above this vapor to capture infrared emissions from distant galaxies.
Dryden Flight Research Center, CA
Brown Dwarfs: Tail End of the Stars • Director | Producer
Journey to the heights of Mauna Kea in Hawaii where astronomers search for brown dwarfs, cosmic bodies that are not quite stars and not quite planets. These long-sought objects are still elusive and visible largely with advanced technologies such as the adaptive optics tools on the Keck II telescope.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii