NOVA

Season 33 Episode 15

Voyage to the Mystery Moon

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Aired Wednesday 9:00 PM Apr 04, 2006 on PBS
8.7
out of 10
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3 votes
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Voyage to the Mystery Moon
AIRED:
Voyage to the Mystery Moon explores the Cassini/Huygens satellite mission to Saturn, including a landing on its Earth-like moon, Titan. This 2006 episode from the PBS show NOVA interviews the international team of scientists and astronomers as they design and execute the project and await a long seven years for their satellite to send back data on the mysterious rings of Saturn and possible secrets to our solar system.moreless
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • NOVA takes on space travel in a fairly understandable way, overall a nice job as an installment.

    6.3
    The US and the European Space Agency launch Cassini, a mission to Titan, a moon of Saturn.



    A good episode for those who pay attention, there is a lot of nice explanation about the details of space exploration - the distances, the mathematical calculations necessary, the alien nature of celestial bodies in our solar system. And as usual, there is the staged sense of drama as the players wait for the results of their work. Of course, the drama IS there - but NOVA tends to magnify it so that viewers get the idea that scientists' hopes are more like that of a bet on the Superbowl.



    I would give this episode slightly better than mid-pack ratings as a program. There are enough effects shots to make Titan fairly interesting, but the scientists sometimes explain things in terms that are accessible but slightly innacurate. Without doubt, my biggest peeve is the use of the term "transmit photographs". Photographs are visible light reacting with a film emulsion, images are digital data collected in all kinds of wavelengths from near infrared to x-rays and mapped in two dimensions by computer. Earth satellites and space probes collect data digitally and transmit it - photographs have nothing to do with it.



    Perhaps another problem is that the new data collected by Cassini is fascinating but not qualitatively different than the speculations generated by the earlier basic observations. But this episode is worth it alone to get an appreciation of how the probe had to "slingshot" by Venus twice before it could again pass Earth and head outward to the billion plus miles to Saturn and its satellite.moreless

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