The Universe
Season 2
18 episodes
See below for purchasing options
DVD & Blu-ray
"The Universe" episode no. 21 (season 2)
  • written and directed by Laura Verklan Armstrong
  • edited by Samantha Jetter
  • science consultants Adrian Brown & Jennifer Heldmann

  • narrated by Erik Thompson
  • Original Music by Eric Amdahl
  • Flight 33 Productions, (c) 2008 A & E TV Networks
  • 1 documentary @ 44 minutes

Data Capsule Review

by Martin Izsak

This episode digs deep into the science of how life is thought to have first started here on Earth, and how scientists are further refining their theories through ongoing studies, experiments, and research. Then the astrobiologists take over to extrapolate how life may be originating on other planets and moons near and far, in ways similar to life on Earth, or in ways that are very different.

Many astrobiologists at NASA Ames Research Center also look at simple life forms that thrive in extreme environments today, to help them understand if life can exist in the extreme environments known to exist in other parts of our own solar system. Locations that interest these astrobiologists include Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa, and Saturn's moon Titan.

The importance of oxygen as an indicator that biological processes may be taking place is also discussed, which leads to the search for the light wavelengths produced by oxygen from newly discovered exoplanets.

Finally, the search for intelligent, technologically competent life brings in members of the SETI Institute, and their obsession with radio.

from the disc sleeve:

Travel with a visionary new science on a search for life in space. Combining the disciplines of astronomy, biology, and geology, a diverse group of scientists join forces to define life on Earth, and explore what kinds of life may exist on other planets.

Chapter List:

  1. Introduction
  2. Origins of Life on Earth
  3. Life on Mars
  4. Liquid Water
  5. Planets with Oxygen
  6. Intelligent Life

Participants include:

Abigail Allwood

NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory

searches the ancient rocks in Australia for the footprints of very early microbial life on Earth.

Jennifer Heldmann

NASA Ames Research Center

studies algae in snowpacks on Earth to predict if life could exist in similar conditions on Mars

Chris McKay

NASA Ames Research Center

spent over 25 years decoding the origin of life on Earth in order to find it elsewhere.

Geoff Marcy

Astronomer, Exoplanet Locator,
University of California, Berkeley

As of the first 300 exoplanets discovered by 2009, he and colleague Paul Butler had been credited with finding more extra-solar planets than anyone else.

Dr. Adrian Brown

Astrobiologist, SETI Institute

Investigates hydro-thermal hotsprings on Earth to better understand similar geology on Mars where microbes may feast and life may originate.

Seth Shostak

Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute
Regular Radio/Podcast Host

Dr. David Grinspoon

Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Lee Bebout

NASA Ames Research Center

re-cultivates the oldest known oxygen bearing ecosystems to learn if they could also evolve in conditions on other planets and moons.

This documentary has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
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The Universe
Season 2 Box Set
18 episodes




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Read the data capsule review for another episode: "Wildest Weather in the Cosmos"

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