BBC Factual has greenlit a trio of space-themed programs that will air on BBC Two, Four and iPlayer.
First up is Seven Days on Mars, which will air on BBC Two and iPlayer. The 90-minute documentary was made by Arrow Media, and sees professor Brian Cox fulfill his childhood dream to go behind the scenes at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, mission control Mars.
Cox wrote to the lab in the 1980s, asking for photos from Voyager and the Viking mission to Mars, setting him on the path to eventually becoming a physicist. In the new documentary, he’ll witness the inner workings of the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter’s missions across Mars’ surface. Cox will show how these missions could transform our understanding of life, both on Mars and on Earth.
The documentary is executive produced by Ash Potterton and Tom Brisley for Arrow, and directed by Michael Lachmann. Fremantle will distribute Seven Days on Mars globally.
Next is the hour-long James Webb Telescope: A Horizon Special from Windfall Films, which will also air on BBC Two and iPlayer.The special tells the inside story of the James Webb Space Telescope through interviews with the engineers who built it and the astronomers who will use it.
NASA is preparing to release the first images from the telescope, the successor to Hubble and 100 times more powerful, this summer. It’s capable of looking up to 300 million years further back in time than Hubble, to an era between 100 million and 250 million years after the Big Bang. It’s also the first telescope designed to unfold in space, a complicated two-week operation that makes the project a very expensive gamble.
Caro Massarella serves as an executive producer on the special, with Martin Gorst producing and directing.
Finally, Secrets of Size: Atoms to Supergalaxies is a 2 x 60-minute documentary for BBC Four and iPlayer, made by Furnace TV and coproduced by The Kavli Prize, with Paul Sen executive producing.
The series sees professor Jim Al-Khalili analyze the contents of the universe at different scales, including its tiniest objects of just a few atoms in the first episode, to vast structures and interconnected galaxies in the second. At the end of each of the two parts, viewers will see the largest structure ever discovered by scientists in the universe, and the smallest thing in existence that’s been photographed up to this point.