One Strange Rock
For the privileged few who have looked down at the Earth from space, the thin blue line of our planet's sets the Earth apart from every other planet we've seen. It sustains life. The story of how the Earth creates and regulates that oxygen rich-atmosphere is mind-blowing: A flying river, a global dust storm, a collapsing glacier and the most important creature you've never heard of. All connected together to allow life and the planet to breathe.
Ever wondered how our planet got here? It was born in a cosmic storm and shaped by violence. We're only here because of random collisions in a dangerous cosmos. It could have destroyed us, but instead constructed a planet from the rubble of the early solar system, gave us oceans in a bombardment from the heavens, and brought order to our world when two planets collided.
Earth protects itself from the sun. The David and Goliath story of Earths relationship with its greatest threat, our seemingly benign Sun. The Sun is the big violent boss of the Solar System throwing out devastating particles and deadly radiation. Without several shields, one generated by our unique planetary core, another by our atmosphere, and a third by our interconnected weather systems, life on Earth would never have survived.
Our rock is special - its alive. Though the building blocks of life are common across the universe, life is rare. So what is it about planet earth that sets it apart? What dynamic forces, what coincidences took a bunch of dead ingredients?and transformed them into something as insanely intricate as Life? And if happened here could it happen elsewhere?
Will we find life like ours on another planet? All life on Earth started as single cell bacteria and stayed like that for 2 billion years. So how did that bacteria become the complex, colorful and diverse life thats all around us? And could this happen anywhere else in the universe? Hosted by astronaut Dr Mae Jemison.
Its not enough for Earth to be habitable, it also has to be lethal for life to thrive. Death is hardwired into everything from our cells to the planet itself. Global mass extinctions create the opportunities which evolution seizes; boosting the biodiversity needed to survive whatever the planet throws at it. And at the heart of this story is a biological superpower - sex - lifes trade off with death to survive on a restless world.
Of all life on earth, how come were the only ones with the smarts to leave our planet? For 2 billion years nothing had a brain. Even today 90% of Life doesnt need a brain to survive. So what happened? What did our planet do to set in motion a chain of impossible and unlikely events, that ultimately made us so much more intelligent than anything else?
Ever since life emerged, microbes, plants and animals have all sculpted the planets surface and atmosphere in the strangest of ways; fish poop creates islands; dead animals create mountains; plants help create continents. From rocks to rivers, life has crafted everything that makes our planet so special. But this power of change brings with it profound dangers. Life doesnt just create. It can also destroy.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield has left the planet three times already, now he wants to do more. After seeing the bullet holes left by asteroids on our planet's surface, he believes our only chance of survival is to escape Earth and build a colony off-world. But it will be the toughest journey humanity has ever faced: space radiation, microgravity and the bacteria inside us will conspire against us. So could we earthlings ever survive off our one strange rock?
After 3 missions, and 665 weightless days in space, NASAs most experienced astronaut, Peggy Whitson, smashes through the atmosphere on her final journey home - to Planet Earth. With her first steps back on land, she encounters fresh air, blue skies, warm sun and, of course, gravity theres no place like home. Or is there? Just how strange is our rock and is it really unique in the universe?