Segments in this Video

Oceans Elsewhere (03:33)


For many years it was believed that Earth's unique quality was its oceans. Scientists discovered that the solar system contains many oceans, some similar to Earth's.

Ancient Martian Ocean (02:11)

The search for oceans on other planets began with Mars. NASA scientist Dr. Geronimo Villanueva uses telescopes in the Atacama Desert to study other planets. The water on Mars is frozen but the planet looks as if it was carved by oceans.

Water on Mars (03:59)

In 1984, a 4.5 billion-year-old martian meteorite was found in Antarctica. It contained an isotopic signature that allowed scientists to decipher how much water was once on Mars; the Martian ocean covered 19% of Mars.

Faint Heartbeat (02:50)

Scientists believe the atmosphere on Mars over 4 billion years ago was susceptible solar radiation damage and the ocean evaporated. Rovers and orbiters send information to Earth, allowing scientists to attempt to determine if any life on Mars survived.

Bonneville Salt Flats (02:12)

The salt flats in Utah are similar to the surface of Mars and contain life; Mars is older than planet Earth.

Preserved Life (02:55)

Microorganisms are active in warm periods and hibernate in deep freezes. Professor Melanie Mormile extracted fluid from a 97,000 year old salt crystal and found flourishing organisms.

Tardigrade Survival Mechanisms (03:16)

Dr. Carl Johansson studies the water-dwelling, segmented animals. Once re-hydrated, tardigrades appear to come back to life and survive the extreme conditions.

Tardigrade Experiments (04:04)

Tardigrades were found in Antarctica and kept frozen for four years in a lab. Dr. Byron Adams examines the thawed creatures. Tardigrades survived high temperatures and radiation present in space.

Fresh Ice on Enceladus (02:36)

The experiments with microorganisms locked in salt crystals and the tardigrades support the possibility of life on Mars. The Voyager probe photographed Saturn's moon in 1980, finding a cratered surface in the north which indicates old ice. In the south, there was a fresh ice surface with few craters.

Life on Enceladus? (02:38)

The Cassini spacecraft photographed water plumes on Enceladus, indicating the existence of oceans beneath the icy surface of the moon. However, life requires not only water, but elements of the periodic table, and a source of energy. On Earth, plants take energy from the sun and harness its energy via photosynthesis.

Ocean of Enceladus (02:07)

A giant geyser field in the Atacama Desert, El Tatio, produces high levels of hydrothermal activity. It is possible that Enceladus' ocean floor contains bubbling, hot geysers. Since life can thrive at the bottom of Earth's oceans, perhaps it does on Enceladus.

Hydrothermal Vents (03:18)

In the 1970s, thriving life in the dark abyss of Earth's deepest oceans was discovered. This same kind of life could be thriving on ocean moons.

Titan's Composition (03:35)

Dr. Chris McKay looks for life without a common ancestor of the life on Earth. Saturn's largest moon has a thick atmosphere, an Earth-like surface, and oceans of methane.

Methane Lifeforms (03:37)

Scientists at Cornell University are trying to figure out whether methane-based lifeforms are possible. Professor Paulette Clancy notes that in science fiction, humans tend to imagine aliens as creature that resemble humans, but that is not necessary.

Investigating Titan (03:23)

The Cassini spacecraft sent a probe to Titan and took measurements of the moon's atmosphere; hydrogen levels dropped abruptly as the probe landed. Steven Oleson worked on a team to develop a submarine to send to Titan.

Creating the Seas of Titan (04:42)

NASA replicated the conditions of Titan to test the submarine. Scientists like Michael Paul are thrilled to see the pictures the submarine will take of Titan.

Credits: Oceans of the Solar System (00:36)

Credits: Oceans of the Solar System

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Oceans of the Solar System

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Water defines the Earth, and is crucial to life. Once we thought oceans were unique to our planet, but astronomers are now discovering them all over the solar system, raising the possibility of life in places we never thought possible. This BBC Horizon program sets sail on an epic journey; from the icy wastes of Enceladus to the prehistoric oceans of Mars, and to the methane lakes of Saturn's biggest moon Titan—where NASA plans to send a submarine to dive into the murky depths. Are we on the verge of discovering that—far from being unique—life in the solar system is ubiquitous? A BBC Production.

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: FMK115666

ISBN: 978-1-68272-991-5

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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