The Four Main Planets
I love space. If there’s one topic in science that I find myself constantly captivated and engrossed by, it’s this. Narrated by the enigmatic Professor Brian Cox, The Planets takes us on an in-depth journey into our solar system. With a mixture of facts, figures and discussion around key elements of each planet, The Planets is a fascinating watch, one told with a poetic tongue and a great use of CGI imagery and archival footage.
We begin 4.6 billion years ago with the first formation of our terrestrial planets; Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth. Earth is, of course, unique thanks to its Goldilocks effect – being the perfect habitat for life given it’s distance from the Sun. However, the other planets may well have held the ingredients to house life too, which we explore in turn throughout the episode.
From here, The Planets weaves individual tales for our four terrestrial planets, from the Messenger mission to Mercury through to the history of Venus and just why the surface level there is hotter than Mercury. Between archival footage of missions and CGI rendering of each planet, Brian Cox himself talks us through the various theories and science, using real-life objects as examples and explaining things in an easy to understand manner. It works well too, with anyone able to jump in and watch this, regardless of your level of scientific knowledge on the matter.
Seeing the Greenhouse Effect in full swing on Venus is certainly one of the highlights here too, with the planet slowly boiling up and becoming a Planetary vision of Hell. It’s fascinating stuff, especially when you realize the composition of this planet is not much different to Earth. We then see Mars’ moment of glory before all the water evaporated and left wide craters but to be honest, it’s a fleeting vision of The Red Planet that we see here. Given the preview for next week’s episode, we’ll be taking a closer look at The Red Planet then so it’s easy to look past this.
The episode then closes out with a look at what will happen 5 billion years from now, as the Sun heats up and the terrestrial planets are no more. However, this will pave the way for moons like Titan and Europa to heat up and potentially give life a chance elsewhere. With pools of liquid around its poles, Titan certainly seems like the most likely contender for housing life too; could this be our home in the future?
This really interesting, informative look at the history of our planets combines poetic language and archival footage with a great use of CGI imagery to bring the planets to life. It’s awe-inspiring to realize just how unique our species really is and this fascinating glimpse at our beautiful solar system makes it well worth a watch.