Segments in this Video

Introduction: Ice Worlds (02:16)


Outer solar system bodies are billions of miles from the sun; temperatures near Absolute Zero, but planets remain active.

Journey to the Outer Solar System (02:08)

Voyager II launches in 1977. It utilized a unique planetary alignment, optimizing gravity assists to accelerate the craft.

Ice Giant (04:36)

After nine years of travel, Voyager II transmitts details of Uranus. The hydrogen and helium gas planet has few features due to -371 °F temperatures. Two moons are located within its vertically oriented rings.

Solar System (02:52)

During formation, matter spins in one direction around the sun. As planets grow, orbits and axis rotations follow course, with two exceptions. Uranus spins opposite and vertical.

Uranus to Neptune (03:15)

Voyager II travels a billion miles and twelve years. Scientist David Grinspoon illustrates solar system distances with a model scaled down 600 million times.

Extreme Climate (04:50)

Neptune is a hydrogen and helium gas planet; the fastest winds in the solar system drive the weather. Pressure-generated heat produces dynamic patterns. When released into space, it causes atmospherics flows that reach supersonic speed.

Erupting Satellite (03:56)

Voyager II explores Neptune's moon Triton, locating nitrogen ice and active geysers. The sunlight heats particles below the surface, vaporizing gas and allowing it to plume through the crust. Neptune orbits in the opposite direction of its parent planet.

Imported Moon (03:14)

Scientists theorize that Triton formed outside the solar system and was drawn in by Neptune's gravity. Gravitational stretching and compression transformed the moon and its orbit, creating volcanic activity before cooling and stabilizing.

Kuiper Belt (06:03)

As Voyager II exits the solar system, it discovers trillions of water, ammonia, and methane lumps. New Horizons launches in 2006 to explore the outer zone. While in transit, Pluto is downgraded to Dwarf Planet.

Dwarf Planet (10:26)

Photo transmissions of Pluto reveal a dynamic surface with old and new terrain. The Sputnik Planitia region is a craterless plain of frozen nitrogen edged by ice mountains. Decaying radioactive elements melt water around the body's rocky core, warming the gas enough to resurface the area.

Vast New Worlds (04:21)

In January 2019, New Horizons transmits pictures of Ultima Thule. Evolving technologies allows closer study of planets and moons, but there is more to discover.

Credits: Ice Worlds (00:51)

Credits: Ice Worlds

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Episode 5: Ice Worlds (NOVA: The Planets)

Part of the Series : NOVA: The Planets
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In the far reaches of the solar system, Uranus and Neptune dazzle with unexpected rings, supersonic winds, and dozens of moons. And NASA’s New Horizons gets a stunning up-close view of Pluto before venturing deep into the Kuiper Belt.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL191994

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

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