A Beautiful Planet
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A Beautiful Planet is a 2016 American documentary film that explores Earth by showing IMAX footage that was recorded over the course of fifteen months by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. It is narrated by actress Jennifer Lawrence.
|A Beautiful Planet|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Toni Myers|
|Produced by||Toni Myers|
|Written by||Toni Myers|
|Narrated by||Jennifer Lawrence|
|Music by||Micky Erbe|
|Edited by||Toni Myers|
|Distributed by||IMAX Entertainment|
|Box office||$25.7 million|
The film also examines some of the daily experiences of the astronauts, who represent the respective space agencies for the United States, Russia, Europe, and Japan. This multinational crew lives and works on the Space Station, an orbiting symbol of cutting edge technology and peaceful international cooperation which is presented as "a truly awesome example of what we can achieve when we work together."
A Beautiful Planet utilizes oversized movie screens to show some of the most notable cities worldwide lit up by nighttime skyglow, lightning storms seen from above the clouds, a glimpse into the eye of Super Typhoon Maysak, polar auroras viewed from low Earth orbit, the Great Lakes of North America locked in ice and snow, and reefs just below the surface of the Caribbean Sea.
we did science and spacewalks and all kinds of things, but I think this movie is the most important thing I did because it brings space to people ... Most people can't go to space, unfortunately, so it's a way to share our experience with people on Earth.
The big pictureEdit
Some of the movie's images illustrate geographical realities that are not necessarily obvious from the ground but which are apparent when viewed from space. For example, the circular structure of Lake Manicouagan in Quebec, Canada may not be evident to a person in a kayak paddling along its jagged, indented shoreline. However, an astronaut looking down on this annular lake from the Space Station can clearly see that it is an enormous ring of water; scientists believe that it is the flooded inner ring of an impact crater that formed when a meteor struck the Earth during the Late Triassic. Similarly, a person looking up into the deep blue sky from the ground may have the impression that it is a very thick envelope of air surrounding the Earth, but an ISS astronaut looking at the atmosphere edge-on sees the reality that, compared to the Earth's diameter, it is roughly as thick as the skin on an apple.
The film's sequence looking down into the eye of a tropical cyclone reveals how an image from the Space Station can replace otherwise-murky ideas with sudden clarity. Super Typhoon Maysak was an extremely powerful typhoon that was filmed from the ISS in the spring of 2015. At peak intensity, its winds were so strong that it would have qualified as a Category 5 hurricane had it developed in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Northwestern Pacific basin. According to Butch Wilmore (the ISS commander when Maysak was filmed), when you look down into the cloud free center of a cyclone, "you see power. A funnel 25 miles in diameter at the center of a hurricane or typhoon [causes you to] realize: That's energy. It is powerful, powerful energy."
A Beautiful Planet is shown on movie screens which literally use big pictures to illustrate some of the largest of the large scale geographical features on Earth. For example, it shows a snow-capped segment of South America's Andes, "the longest [continental] mountain range in the world." Because they stretch across so much varied terrain as they wrap around the globe from Venezuela north of the Equator, through the Tropics, and down to southern Argentina, the Andean Mountains have their own list of "greatest and utmost" locations: they contain "some of the most extreme climate zones on Earth, from ice fields to deserts," and they include Aconcagua, the highest peak in The Americas, as well as the highest in the Southern Hemisphere.
The movie also contrasts Earth's driest and wettest areas by showing an overhead sequence of the Namib Desert's red sands on the east cleft by the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean's Skeleton Coast on the west, and repeats the widely accepted idea that the Namib is the "oldest desert" on Earth. (Though there are questions as to exactly when and how the Sahara turned from a green savanna into a desert, there is consensus that the Namib has been arid for tens of millions of years longer than its enormous, "new" African neighbor to the north, and that it has had a desert climate longer than any other region in the world.)
A number of the astronauts in A Beautiful Planet said that it was inevitable they would begin to see parallels between Earth and the Space Station. According to Kjell Lindgren, "The ISS is a microcosm of the Earth ... You have consumable resources, and you have to be mindful of how you use those resources. It reminds us that we have to be better stewards of what we have, and be better crew members of Spaceship Earth." This portrayal of our planet as a fragile, life sustaining spacecraft is introduced in the very first scene. The film begins with a light-years-long, computer-generated trip through swarms of stars in the Milky Way; the compressed trip ends by focusing on the Solar System. Even though our planetary system seems unremarkable, it is in fact "the only place we know, in all the universe, to harbor life."
In the film, Jennifer Lawrence's narration calls Earth's atmosphere "a delicate cocoon of air that shields us from our star's radiation." Of course, the atmosphere doesn't completely block electromagnetic radiation from the Sun; without some sunlight reaching the surface, plants could not harvest the Sun's energy, and practically no life as we know it could exist. The atmosphere's ozone layer does filter out much of the harmful ultraviolet light (or "UV rays") produced by the Sun. UV rays can cause skin cancer, and catastrophic damage to the ozone layer may have contributed to Earth's most extensive mass extinction of species ever, the End-Permian extinction (also known as "The Great Dying").
Like the force fields which protect fictional spaceships from damage, Spaceship Earth has a very real magnetic field which prevents cosmic rays and the stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun from harming living beings on Earth. In the narrative words of A Beautiful Planet, the glowing, curtain-like auroras that the astronauts admire in the film "show that shield in action. Because we have this magical magnetic field protecting us, we have our forests, and oceans, animals, and people. It's why ours is a planet of life." Our neighboring planet Mars, on the other hand, does not have a planetary magnetic field. Consequently, "its atmosphere was ripped away from the planet by the solar wind. If you could stand on Mars today, you would find a landscape of lifeless desolation; very cold, and very dry."
One of the current challenges in maintaining Earth's planetary "life support system" is global warming. The film shows how Earth's warming climate is causing the Greenland ice sheet to melt, and drives the point home by using time-lapse photography to show the Jakobshavn Glacier calving a large number of icebergs in relatively rapid succession as the end of this flowing river of ice retreats inland. If the entire island's ice sheet were to melt, it would likely cause sea levels to rise 20 feet (or more), which, in turn, could inundate low-lying cities like New Orleans.
Another impediment to sustaining Earth's long-term habitability is deforestation. A Beautiful Planet shows kilometers of ground in Madagascar that have been cleared of trees to make way for agricultural fields, pasture, or simply as the result of logging companies cutting down the trees without replanting more. Consequently, this evolutionarily isolated island suffers from widespread soil erosion and loss of habitat for its many unique animals (like the lemur). The movie also reveals what the burning of the Brazilian rainforest looks like from space. Because rainforests are extremely concentrated biodiversity hotspots, the long plumes of smoke which the astronauts see rising from the Amazon jungle represent the extinction of species that might have led to the development of new pharmaceuticals, economically useful discoveries, or the advancement of scientific knowledge. The burning trees also add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and curtail the capacity of the forest to reduce carbon dioxide and increase oxygen.
Even though A Beautiful Planet contains a few dire warnings regarding climate change and environmental degradation, filmmaker Toni Myers wanted primarily to give moviegoers positive reasons why they might take better care of the Earth rather than scaring them. She told the Los Angeles Times, "I wanted to inspire people especially as to how beautiful the planet is, how fragile it is, how complex and diverse and varied it is ... Most of all I wanted to show why we want to find solutions to look after our planet. It's our only one."
The film's cast reflects the fact that the crew of the International Space Station comes from many nations. The astronauts who appeared in the movie included: Scott Kelly (NASA / USA), who spent roughly a year in space during a long, uninterrupted stay aboard the International Space Station, Samantha Cristoforetti (European Space Agency / Italy), who has spent more time in an uninterrupted spaceflight than any other European astronaut, Barry "Butch" Wilmore (NASA / USA), commander of the 42nd expedition to the ISS from November 10, 2014 to March 11, 2015, Terry Virts (NASA / USA), commander of the 43rd expedition to the ISS from March 11, 2015 to June 11, 2015, Anton Shkaplerov (Roscosmos / Russia), the commander of the Soyuz spacecraft that brought Cristoforetti and Virts to the Space Station, Kjell Lindgren (NASA / USA), a medical doctor who had previously worked as a flight surgeon supporting medical operations and space-station training at NASA's Johnson Space Center, and Kimiya Yui (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency / Japan), a space explorer who was made Head of the JAXA Astronaut Group after he returned from his stay on the Space Station.
There are five space agencies that operate and pay for the ISS: the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (Roscosmos), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Of these five, the only agency that did not have an astronaut who appeared on camera in A Beautiful Planet was the Canadian Space Agency. However, the film would not have been made without essential contributions from Canadians: the IMAX Corporation, the movie company responsible for the film's towering and detailed visual images, is headquartered in Ontario, Canada, and Toni Myers, the movie's writer, director and producer, was also a Canadian.
The Space StationEdit
The astronauts spend a good portion of their time in A Beautiful Planet giving viewers a virtual tour of the International Space Station, a habitable, artificial satellite which is sometimes visible from the ground as it zooms by 400 kilometers overhead, completing each 90-minute lap around the Earth. Approximately the size of an association football pitch (also known as a "soccer field" in the US), it is possibly the most expensive object ever built by human hands.
According to NASA, the Space Station has about the same amount of internal pressurized volume as a Boeing 747 aircraft; it orbits fast enough to experience, on average, 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours; it has 2 bathrooms, a gym and a 360-degree bay window; approximately seven tons of food and other supplies are required to support a crew of three for about six months; more than 100 US-telephone-booth-sized rack facilities can be housed in the Station for operating the spacecraft systems and research experiments; and it provides more livable room than a conventional six-bedroom house.
The Space Station is, first and foremost, a scientific laboratory, and many of the experiments on the ISS use the astronauts themselves as willing research participants to determine how spaceflight affects the human body. On March 28, 2015 Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko arrived at the Space Station to commence a much-discussed one year mission to study the health effects of long-term space travel. Scientists hope to analyze their mission and discover ways future space explorers might adjust to the effects of weightlessness, isolation, radiation exposure, and stress they would encounter in a 30-month-round-trip expedition to Mars, or in an even longer trip beyond Mars. Shortly after Kelly's arrival at the Space Station, A Beautiful Planet shows him participating in an initial examination of his eye so that the vision decline reported by many astronauts can be studied, and hopefully, corrected.
Scott Kelly has an identical twin, Mark Kelly, who is also a retired NASA astronaut. The brothers have agreed to be the subjects of an unprecedented twin study; Mark stayed on Earth during Scott's eleven months aboard the ISS so that researchers could examine how an extended spaceflight affected Scott's body compared to Mark's. While Scott was in space and then continuing after he returned, both twins gave periodic blood samples and DNA swabs, and they underwent body scans and many other medical tests. In the epilogue to his 2017 book about the year long mission, Scott wrote that the very preliminary assessments of the data from the mission and from the twin study were promising:
The data is still being analyzed as I write this, and the scientists are excited about what they are seeing so far. The genetic differences between my brother and me from this year could unlock new knowledge, not only about what spaceflight does to our bodies, but also about how we age here on Earth. The Fluid Shifts study Misha [Mikhail] and I did is promising in terms of improving astronauts' health on long missions. The studies I did on my eyes - which don't seem to have degraded further during this mission - could help solve the mystery of what causes damage to astronauts' vision, as well as helping us understand more about the anatomy and disease processes of the eye in general.— Scott Kelly, Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery (2017)
In the critical taste test phase of an experiment with space farming, Kelly and his fellow Expedition 44 crewmembers Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui are shown sampling red romaine lettuce that was grown in the Space Station's "Veggie" (or Vegetable Production) System. The Veggie series of experiments are designed both to ensure that future explorers visiting the Moon, Mars or an asteroid have access to fresh produce, and also to provide them with an opportunity for relaxation and relief from stress or boredom, rather like therapeutic gardening.
When Samantha Cristoforetti arrives at the Space Station she excitedly greets the other crew members already aboard, and then she moves to a portal window to take a look at the Earth from roughly 400 kilometers above the surface, orbiting at 28,000 kilometers an hour.
Describing her first view from the Station, Cristoforetti says, "I just couldn't resist taking a peek. I could see the Earth majestically flowing by, almost like a river. I don't know what happiness is, but I was definitely happy at that time."
A Beautiful Planet makes very good use of the Cupola, a domed, 360 degree observation bay on the nadir (Earth-facing) side of the Station's Tranquility module / Node 3. It has six outwardly-angled windows arranged around a central, circular window which faces directly toward Earth. The circular window measures 80 centimeters in diameter; it is the largest window ever sent into space. Many of the movie's scenes were filmed from the Cupola, and the astronauts themselves are shown taking photographs and gazing through its windows, enjoying its unparalleled views of Earth.
Even though the Cupola was constructed by the European Space Agency for the utilitarian purpose of giving astronauts a workstation where they could observe the Earth, the exterior of the Station, visiting vehicles, and the operation of the ISS robotic arms, it also serves as a rejuvenation area where astronauts can relax and seek inspiration. Some of the most recognizable images from the five space agencies that operate the Station show their explorers within the Cupola, contemplating our home planet.
Much of the "training facility" aspect of the ISS mission is geared toward providing practical experience so that astronauts, space agencies, aerospace engineers and scientists are prepared for much longer space missions, including a possible human presence on Mars or the Moon.
Because space medicine researchers have found that exercise can partially ameliorate the loss of bone density and muscle atrophy that inevitably accompany weightlessness, astronauts on the Space Station are required to spend approximately two hours each day engaged in physical training. In the film, Terry Virts is shown getting a cardiovascular workout by running on an ISS treadmill and Samantha Cristoforetti does strength training using an ISS exercise machine that mimics weightlifting exercises. Of course, both machines have adaptations that permit them to function in a micro-g environment. The treadmill has a harness and bungee cord straps that keep astronaut runners from floating away from it, and the "weightlifting" machine replaces the weights (which don't "weigh" anything in orbit) with two canisters that create small vacuums against which exercising astronauts can pull.
The position of the Space Station in low Earth orbit is effectively just outside of the Earth's appreciable atmosphere, and is therefore an excellent training area in which astronauts can put on space suits, leave the ISS life support systems behind, and conduct spacewalks - or "Extravehicular activity (EVA)." An EVA may be undertaken to make repairs, reconfigure the Station to accommodate new modules, deploy new equipment, etc. The ISS orbits high enough to permit an astronaut and their sponsoring nation to gain valuable EVA experience outside of the atmosphere, but it is low enough to avoid the increased radiation exposure and other difficulties associated with climbing further out of Earth's gravity well. (If the Earth is compared to a 16 inch beach ball, the orbit of the ISS would be about half an inch above the beach ball's surface.)
Butch Wilmore and Terry Virts teamed up to perform three spacewalks over a nine day period from February 21 to March 1, 2015, and A Beautiful Planet shows footage from some of their EVA activities outside the Space Station. While they worked, both explorers were acutely aware that spacewalks are inherently dangerous. This is especially true if something unexpected happens, but many of the significant hazards an astronaut is likely to encounter are predictable and difficult to avoid completely. In the movie Virts explains that possible punctures to their EMU spacesuits were a particular concern because "you 'walk around' by grabbing onto things with your gloves ... The outside of the Space Station [is] a jungle of wires and equipment and metal bars and trusses. If you accidentally sliced your glove or your spacesuit on one of the sharp edges, that could create a leak, and if that leak were big enough, you would die." Describing some of the other EVA hazards, Wilmore elaborates that the temperature is "almost 300 degrees [Fahrenheit] on the Sun side of the Space Station, [but when] you get in the shade, it's minus 275 degrees. You feel that inside the suit. My fingertips in the sunlight would feel like they were on fire almost ... [Also,] you have a safety tether attached to the Station, and it's on a reel ... You can be upside down, twisted, inverted; you can completely lose your spatial awareness about where you are and what your attitude is, and you can easily get tangled up in that safety tether if you're not cautious. Every single movement you make, you're making an effort to think [things] through."
After spending almost the entire film scrutinizing the Earth and the ISS (with its astronauts) in low Earth orbit, one of the final scenes of A Beautiful Planet briefly examines an important extrasolar planet (a planet outside of our solar system) which was discovered in 2014. The planet, Kepler-186f, was the first approximately-Earth-sized planet found to be orbiting within its star's habitable zone, or orbital area where liquid water could conceivably exist without freezing or vaporizing. In other words, it was the first discovery of an Earth-sized planet on which life could reside.
The "Kepler" in this exoplanet's name comes from the fact that it was discovered by the Kepler Space Telescope, or "NASA Discovery Mission Number 10," a spacecraft observatory which is designed to find exoplanets in our region of the Milky Way Galaxy that are Earth-size and smaller, and that are within the habitable zone. The planet orbits Kepler-186, a red dwarf star about half the size and mass of the Sun which lies in the direction of the constellation Cygnus, about 500 light-years away. The number "186" in the planet's name refers to the order in which its planetary system was discovered while scientists processed all of the data produced by the Kepler Space Telescope, and the planet itself is designated "f" because the first planet to be discovered in the system is designated as planet "b," the second discovered is "c," etc., and it was the fifth planet to be discovered.
Even though the idea of interstellar travel to another planetary system like Kepler-186 is not feasible given current astronautics technology, some spaceflight futurists find value in speculating about the currently-impossible, and Samantha Cristoforetti is one of the dreamers. In the film she expresses the hope that someday future human explorers might somehow have the opportunity to investigate the Kepler-186 system in person.
A Beautiful Planet was written, produced and directed by Toni Myers, who created seven other space-themed IMAX films such as Hubble 3D and Space Station 3D. The film premiered in Manhattan on April 16, 2016 and made its theatrical debut on April 29, 2016. Despite being announced as distributor, Walt Disney Studios later removed association with the film prior to its release.
Jennifer Lawrence narrationEdit
A Beautiful Planet is narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, the lead actress in The Hunger Games series of films. Discussing her part in the movie's production, she said, "It was an honor for me to lend my voice to such a beautiful film that will educate audiences."
By narrating a science-themed IMAX documentary, Lawrence joined a group of well-known actors who recorded voice-overs for similar IMAX films, and who were probably not motivated by the money the project would pay. In 2002 Tom Cruise narrated the IMAX movie Space Station 3D, and Leonardo DiCaprio narrated the IMAX film Hubble 3D in 2010. Like Cruise and DiCaprio, Lawrence agreed to narrate A Beautiful Planet while her career was at a high point (she was the world's highest paid actress in 2015 and again in 2016). When IMAX's CEO Richard Gelfond was asked to compare how much money IMAX had paid Cruise, DiCaprio and Lawrence to narrate their respective documentaries, Gelfond replied that none of them did it for the money.
Digital IMAX camerasEdit
The astronauts who filmed the movie used digital IMAX cameras, and much of the footage they produced was shot through the seven window panes on the Space Station's domed Cupola module. The use of digital cameras permitted cinematographer James Neihouse to review image sequences almost immediately and make suggestions for retakes, rather than waiting for bulky, one-take-only physical IMAX film to be developed once it had returned from space.
Myers and Neihouse coordinated with their astronaut camera crew to take full advantage of the digital cameras' augmented capacity for filming in dim light. According to Myers, "We would not have the nighttime scenes without the digital dynamic range ... What the digital capture did was totally open up that night world to us, with stars, cities at night, lightning and other phenomena that you see at night, like aurora."
Despite the fact that the digital cameras were state of the art, they may have simply turned out to be very, very expensive disposable cameras. The total cost of sending a single kilogram of supplies to the Space Station may exceed $20,000, and retrieving items from the Station and returning them to Earth is similarly expensive. Once the movie's production team had downloaded the image sequences, it is quite possible the cameras themselves were incinerated in one of the ISS "trash dumps" aboard a Cygnus resupply ship. (The Cygnus is a one-way cargo vehicle that is designed to burn up as it re-enters the atmosphere.)
A Beautiful Planet has been very well received by customary film reviewers, by popular science publications, and by audiences.
All 13 movie reviews listed on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film positive reviews. This resulted in an uncommon-but-coveted 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating by critics, while 80% of audiences also liked it.
Much of the praise for the film centered around its stunning visuals. A review in the British newspaper The Guardian called it a "large-format eye-opener [which] achieves a breathtaking new perspective on Earthly life," while another enthusiastic review in The New York Times asked, "how can your eyes not bug out when given 3-D views of Earth, taken from space, on a stories-high Imax screen?"
- "IMAX And Disney Set Toni Myers' New 3D Space Documentary A Beautiful Planet For Release On April 29, 2016". IMAX Corporation. PR Newswire. September 3, 2015. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Jaworowski, Ken (April 28, 2016). "Review: 'A Beautiful Planet' Shows a Dazzling Earth From Space". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
- "A Beautiful Planet (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
- Lewin, Sarah (April 29, 2016). "'A Beautiful Planet': A 3D Film of Earth from Space". Space.com.
- Curtis, Sophie (May 24, 2016). "A Beautiful Planet: BREATHTAKING new 3D documentary reveals what it's like to live aboard the International Space Station". Daily Mirror. London.
- Verger, Rob (August 15, 2017). "NASA is about to find out if a supercomputer can survive a year in space: Testing the limits of software". Popular Science magazine.
On Monday ... a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on a resupply flight for the International Space Station, and among its cargo, in addition to ice cream, was something else very cool: a supercomputer. The machine, made by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and called the Spaceborne Computer, is capable of a teraflop worth of computing power.
- Jones, Chris (December 19, 2017). "Why the International Space Station Is the Single Best Thing We Did". Wired magazine.
Less than a century after the Model T was state of the art, we manufactured a kind of galleon in space and have sent men and women from 10 countries to live in it ... for nearly 20 years. By the time the ISS makes its fiery return to Earth, possibly in the late 2020s, it will have become a stepping stone to lunar colonies and the first human mission to Mars. It will have taught us so much about our ability to adapt to the most hostile of environments. The most beautiful too.
- Holdren, John; Bolden, Charles (January 8, 2014). "Obama Administration Extends International Space Station until at Least 2024". obamawhitehouse.archives.gov.
With a partnership that includes 15 nations and with 68 nations currently using the ISS in one way or another, this unique orbiting laboratory is a clear demonstration of the benefits to humankind that can be achieved through peaceful global cooperation.
- Dick, Steven (May 2, 2005). "Why We Explore: International Cooperation". NASA website.
'[O]ne can argue that the very act of negotiation, not to mention the implementation of the subsequent agreements, enhances international prospects for peace as projects of great moment for humanity are carried out despite the difficulties.' [From an essay by] NASA's Chief Historian, Steven J. Dick.
- Toni Myers, writer and director (2016). Scene from A Beautiful Planet - cities at night (film clip via YouTube). IMAX Entertainment, in cooperation with NASA.
- Ferreira, Becky (April 22, 2016). "The Astronauts Behind IMAX's 'A Beautiful Planet' Talk About Life in Space". Motherboard. Vice Media.
- Casey, Mark. "Lake Manicouagan: A lake formed in the basin of a massive impact crater takes the shape of an unbroken ring when viewed from above". Atlas Obscura online travel magazine. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
They call it the eye of Quebec. Seen from above, it's easy to understand why. The remarkable and strangely shaped Lake Manicouagan forms as perfect of a ring as nature is likely to create out of water, circular and rough-edged like a giant coffee ring on the surface of the Earth.
- "The atmosphere as a membrane". earth.rice.edu. Rice University.
The atmosphere is very small compared to the rest of the planet. The Earth itself is nearly 13,000 km in diameter, but the atmosphere rises only a few tens of kilometers above the surface. If you were to compare the Earth to an ordinary apple, the atmosphere would be only as thick as the apple's skin.
- Zimmermann, Kim Ann (December 8, 2017). "Aconcagua: Highest Mountain in South America". Live Science.
At 22,837 feet (6,961 meters), not only is it the highest mountain in South America, it is the tallest peak in all of the Americas, as well as the Southern and Western Hemispheres.
- Westberg, Marcus; Westberg, Kate (March 12, 2013). "The Oldest Desert in the World". National Geographic Intelligent Travel - Beyond the Guidebook.
With its red dunes rolling endlessly into the ocean, the Namib is the oldest desert in the world - a sea of silica stretching along Namibia's entire Atlantic coast.
- Deaton, Jeremy (March 20, 2017). "The Sahara Desert used to be green and lush. Then humans showed up. - Solving the mystery of the Sahara". Nexus Media / Popular Science magazine.
- Reza, Zainab (December 4, 2017). "What is the Oldest Desert in the World? The Namib Desert is the world's oldest". WorldAtlas.com.
Due to the arid or semi-arid conditions of the Namib, it has been considered a desert environment for approximately 55-80 million years.
- Wagstaff, Keith (May 16, 2016). "Astronaut Kjell Lindgren Talks About Filming 'A Beautiful Planet'". NBC News.
- Toni Myers, writer and director (2016). Scene from A Beautiful Planet - through the Milky Way to the Solar System (film clip via YouTube). IMAX Entertainment, in cooperation with NASA.
- Ziv, Stav (May 10, 2016). "'A Beautiful Planet' Whisks Viewers To Space For 45 Minutes". Newsweek.
- "Does UV radiation cause cancer?". American Cancer Society website. August 12, 2015.
[M]ost skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to the UV rays in sunlight.
- "Acid rain, ozone depletion contributed to ancient extinction". Science Daily website. November 22, 2013.
- "Permian mass extinction". BBC Nature website. October 2014. Archived from the original on 2015-06-22. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
The Permian mass extinction has been nicknamed The Great Dying, since a staggering 96% of species died out. All life on Earth today is descended from the 4% of species that survived.
- Sutter, Paul (December 14, 2015). "Shields Up! How the Earth Got a Force Field". Space.com.
[Earth's] invisible superpower - It's the magnetic field. Wrapped in its warm embrace, the Earth can withstand the incessant onslaught of the solar wind and the cosmic rays (streams of high-energy particles flooding through the universe).
- Grossman, Lisa (March 27, 2018). "Water may have killed Mars' magnetic field: Extra hydrogen near the Red Planet's core could have shut down convection". Science News magazine.
An excess of hydrogen, split off from water molecules and stored in the Martian mantle, could have shut down convection, switching the magnetic field off forever, planetary scientist Joseph O'Rourke proposed March 21 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
- Achenbach, Joel (March 30, 2017). "How Mars lost its atmosphere, and why Earth didn't". The Washington Post.
In 2013, NASA launched a robotic probe called MAVEN - for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution ... Thursday, in a paper in the journal Science, the MAVEN team published its first major finding: Much and possibly most of the Martian atmosphere has been lost to space, violently scraped from the planet by the solar wind.
- Clark, Pilita (January 18, 2017). "Global temperatures in 2016 break record for third year in a row: Trump's environmental agency nominee concedes that climate change is no hoax". Financial Times. London.
- Rice, Doyle (July 25, 2017). "Algae are turning Greenland green - and that's a problem for sea-level rise". USA Today.
- Harvey, Chelsea (November 6, 2017). "New Maps Show How Greenland's Ice Sheet Is Melting from the Bottom Up: The mapping project will help scientists understand how much of the Greenland ice sheet is threatened". E&E News. Scientific American.
- Holder, Josh; Kommenda, Niko; Watts, Jonathan (November 3, 2017). "The three-degree world: the cities that will be drowned by global warming - The UN is warning that we are now on course for 3C of global warming. This will ultimately redraw the map of the world". The Guardian. London.
- Schiller, Ben (February 28, 2018). "How A Bank Of All The World's Genetic Codes Hopes To Save Nature: The Earth Bank of Codes wants to collect the genetic sequence of the natural world–and let countries make money from the scientific breakthroughs that would result, rather than selling their natural resources". Fast Company business magazine.
'The potential for economic gain from sequencing more of nature for countries and for communities is that the value stream could provide the answer to the age-old question for the biodiversity community of how do we make sure a sustaining natural habitat is worth more than cutting it down and doing mining or forestry,' [according to] Dominic Waughray, head of public-private partnerships at the World Economic Forum.
- "Amazon Deforestation and Climate Change: How is the world's appetite for beef affecting the Amazon rain forest and the world's climate?". nationalgeographic.org. National Geographic Society. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
- Hsiao, Cassandra (May 2, 2016). "Interview with director Toni Myers, mastermind of 'A Beautiful Planet'". High School Insider, Los Angeles Times.
- Spencer, Jim; Meyers, Dan. "Alumni Profile for Kjell Lindgren, 'Lofty Ambitions'". CU Medicine Today. University of Colorado School of Medicine.
- "Biography for JAXA Astronaut Kimiya Yui". Homepage for the International Space Station Japanese Experiment Module 'Kibo'. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. March 28, 2017.
- "Spot the Station". NASA website.
Watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up.
- "Space Station Size Compared to Soccer Field". NASA website. June 11, 2014.
- Hollingham, Richard (December 21, 2015). "How the most expensive structure in the world was built:The International Space Station is a masterpiece of engineering and human ingenuity. But this $100bn project has been beset by politics, compromise and tragedy". BBC Future.
No one is entirely sure how much this grand project has cost – estimates vary from $100bn (£66bn) to anything in excess of $150bn (£100bn) – making it possibly the most expensive object ever built.
- "ISS Facts! The ISS has been inhabited by over 200 people, beginning back in the year 2000". NASA website. December 1, 2015.
- Bolden, Charles; Holdren, John (January 8, 2014). "Obama Administration Extends International Space Station until at Least 2024". NASA website.
The extension of ISS operation will allow NASA and the international space community to accomplish a number of important goals ... First, it will allow NASA to complete necessary research activities aboard the ISS in support of planned long-duration human missions beyond low-Earth orbit ... Second, ISS extension will extend the broader flow of societal benefits from research on the Station ... The ISS is also playing an increasingly important role in the study of the Earth and its changing climate.
- Virts, Terry (2017). View From Above: An Astronaut Photographs The World. National Geographic. p. 113. ISBN 9781426218644.
Science is the primary mission of the International Space Station.
- "One-Year Mission". NASA website. December 19, 2017.
- "One-Year Mission: About". NASA website. March 20, 2017.
- "BEC CREW" (November 29, 2016). "Space Could Leave You Blind, And Scientists Say They've Finally Figured Out Why: 20/20 to 20/100 in 6 months". Science Alert.
- "Twins Study". NASA website. August 3, 2017.
- Maldarelli, Claire (March 1, 2016). "Here's Why Twin Studies Are So Important To Science And NASA: Mark and Scott Kelly are giving scientists a unique look at what space does to the human body". Popular Science magazine.
- "Fluid Shifts Before, During and After Prolonged Space Flight and Their Association with Intracranial Pressure and Visual Impairment (Fluid Shifts)". NASA website. May 2, 2018.
- Kelly, Scott (2017). Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. With Margaret Lazarus Dean. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House. p. 359. ISBN 9781524731595.
- Pearlman, Robert (August 10, 2015). "Astronauts Snack on Space-Grown Lettuce for First Time". Space.com.
As [NASA] strives toward missions farther into the solar system, Veggie will be a resource for the crew's food consumption. It could also be used by the astronauts for recreational gardening during the long-duration missions to an asteroid, the moon or Mars.
- Howell, Elizabeth (February 7, 2018). "International Space Station: Facts, History & Tracking". Space.com.
The space station ... circles the globe every 90 minutes . . . In one day, the station travels about the distance it would take to go from Earth to the moon and back.
- Amos, Jonathan (February 5, 2010). "Astronauts to install a window on the world". BBC News. From "Spaceman, a blog about space".
- "Cupola observation module". ESA website. November 8, 2013.
- Moskowitz, Clara (February 6, 2010). "World's Largest Space Window Headed to Orbit". Space.com.
'Crews tell us that Earth gazing is important to them,' said Julie Robinson, space station program scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. 'The astronauts work hard up there and are away from their families for a long time. Observing the Earth and the stars helps relax and inspire them.'
- Fuller, John (June 2, 2008). "Why do astronauts have to work out on the International Space Station?". HowStuffWorks.
Aside from keeping fit and staying on top of their game, the main reason astronauts work out during trip into outer space is because they suffer from a condition similar to osteoporosis, a disease that results in a significant amount of bone loss.
- Kelly, Scott (2017). Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. With Margaret Lazarus Dean. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House. p. 174. ISBN 9781524731595.
One of the nice things about living in space is that exercise is part of your job ... If I don't exercise six days a week for at least a couple of hours a day, my bones will lose significant mass - 1 percent each month ... Our bodies are smart about getting rid of what's not needed, and my body has started to notice that my bones are not needed in zero gravity. Not having to support our weight, we lose muscle as well.
- "Exercising in Space". NASA website. June 8, 2015.
- "Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED)". NASA website. August 30, 2017.
- Grush, Loren (August 29, 2017). "How Do Astronauts Exercise In Space? To live in microgravity, astronauts need to stay fit". The Verge.
- Virts, Terry (2017). View From Above: An Astronaut Photographs The World. National Geographic. p. 102. ISBN 9781426218644.
The Van Allen Radiation Belts [comprise a] region between 1,000 and 60,000 kilometers above Earth created by Earth's magnetic field. It contains trapped particles from the solar wind and protects astronauts below it. The ISS's orbital altitude was specifically chosen to be below this highly radioactive zone to protect astronauts.
- Blair, William (October 2004). "Size Scales in Astronomy". Johns Hopkins University.
- Kelly, Scott (2017). Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery. With Margaret Lazarus Dean. Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House. p. 322. ISBN 9781524731595.
Kjell and I don't have to talk [after the November 6, 2015 ISS spacewalk] - we just share a look, the same look you'd give someone if you'd been riding down a familiar street together, chatting about this and that, and missed by nanoseconds being T-boned by an oncoming train. It's the look of realizing we've shared this experience that we both know was at the limit of our abilities and could have killed us.
- Chang, Kenneth (April 17, 2014). "Scientists Find an 'Earth Twin,' or Perhaps a Cousin". The New York Times.
- "Kepler and K2 - Mission overview". NASA website. January 4, 2018.
The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission #10, is specifically designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover hundreds of Earth-size and smaller planets in or near the habitable zone and determine the fraction of the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy that might have such planets.
- Emspak, Jesse (March 19, 2015). "Search for Potentially Habitable Worlds Targets Red Dwarf Stars". Space.com.
- "Kepler-186 and the Solar System". NASA website. August 7, 2017.
The five planets of Kepler-186 orbit an M dwarf, a star that is half the size and mass of the sun.
- Quintana, Elisa. "Kepler 186f - First Earth-sized Planet Orbiting in Habitable Zone of Another Star". SETI Institute. Archived from the original on March 18, 2018. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
- "Naming of exoplanets". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved March 18, 2018.
The number in each name refers to the order of the exo-solar system's detection or identification in the instrument's data ... The letter indicates the order of the planet's discovery around its host star. The first exoplanet discovered in another solar system is designated b; the second, c; the third d; and so on.
- Donoghue, Steve (February 21, 2018). "'The Future of Humanity' recommends evacuating Earth in order to save the species: Bestselling writer Michio Kaku is a practiced and very effective popularizer of science for a general audience". The Christian Science Monitor.
Striking out for any of the Earth-like exoplanets that have been discovered by long-range astronomy in the last decade ... might be accomplished by mastering theoretical 'wormholes' that burrow through the spacetime that's otherwise limited by the speed of light.
- Hackett, Jennifer (April 29, 2016). "Astronaut Moviemakers Share Their Views of a Beautiful Planet: The newest IMAX movie filmed in orbit highlights Earth's precariousness". Scientific American.
- Kelley, Seth (April 17, 2016). "Jennifer Lawrence Narrates 'A Beautiful Planet' in Support of Space Exploration". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Ferrise, Jennifer (April 29, 2016). "Jennifer Lawrence Wants to Change Your View of the World—Literally". InStyle magazine.
- "The World's Highest-Paid Actresses 2015". Forbes. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
- Robehmed, Natalie (August 23, 2016). "The World's Highest-Paid Actresses 2016: Jennifer Lawrence Banks $46 Million Payday Ahead Of Melissa McCarthy". Forbes.
- Moynihan, Tim (April 28, 2016). "A Beautiful Planet: Shooting IMAX Is Hard Enough On Earth. In Space, It's Preposterous". Wired magazine.
- Hutchinson, Sean (April 28, 2016). "A Beautiful Planet' Brings IMAX to the ISS: Filmmaker Toni Myers made her film with a crew 250 miles above the Earth". Inverse.
- Hardawar, Devindra (April 29, 2016). "'A Beautiful Planet' offers a bold new look at Earth in IMAX 3D: The first IMAX space film shot with digital cameras is simply stunning". Engadget.
- Virts, Terry (2017). View From Above: An Astronaut Photographs The World. National Geographic. p. 138. ISBN 9781426218644.
Even getting simple things like food and clothes to astronauts on the space station ... takes a tremendous amount of money - the cost of bringing supplies to ISS is a minimum of $20,000 per kilogram, and by some accounting measures much higher than that.
- Moynihan, Tim (April 28, 2016). "A Beautiful Planet: Shooting IMAX Is Hard Enough On Earth. In Space, It's Preposterous". Wired magazine.
One lens used for the [movie] was incinerated aboard a Cygnus trash-dump. It's a $30,000 piece of glass, one that [Marsha] Ivins calls 'the most beautiful lens, be still my heart.' Regardless of the cost of the equipment—or any emotional attachments—it's an unavoidable part of space travel. The rest of the gear used for A Beautiful Planet will likely also be jettisoned into the abyss.
- Siceloff, Steven (March 18, 2016). "Cygnus Set to Deliver Its Largest Load of Station Science, Cargo". NASA website.
As the Cygnus approaches the end of its time connected to the station, astronauts will pack it with trash, spent experiments and other equipment no longer needed. It will all burn up as the spacecraft blazes through the atmosphere to end the flight with a safe impact in the Pacific Ocean.
- Rotten Tomatoes rating for A Beautiful Planet. Retrieved November 29, 2017
- Mike, McCahill (May 26, 2016). "A Beautiful Planet review – vivid earthly phenonema and zero-gravity haircare". The Guardian. London.