playlist

What’s really floating out in space?

The answer is satellites, stars, planets, asteroids and maybe even aliens.

  1. 6:06
    Carrie Nugent Adventures of an asteroid hunter

    TED Fellow Carrie Nugent is an asteroid hunter — part of a group of scientists working to discover and catalog our oldest and most numerous cosmic neighbors. Why keep an eye out for asteroids? In this short, fact-filled talk, Nugent explains how their awesome impacts have shaped our planet, and how finding them at the right time could mean nothing less than saving life on Earth.

  2. 10:15
    Natalie Panek Let's clean up the space junk orbiting Earth

    Our lives depend on a world we can't see: the satellite infrastructure we use every day for information, entertainment, communication and so much more. But Earth orbit isn't a limitless resource, and the problem of space debris will get worse without a significant change to our behavior. Natalie Panek challenges us to consider the environmental impact of the satellites we rely on. Our orbital environment is breathtakingly beautiful and our gateway to exploration, she says. It's up to us to keep it that way.

  3. 17:47
    Fred Jansen How to land on a comet

    As manager of the Rosetta mission, Fred Jansen was responsible for the successful 2014 landing of a probe on the comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In this fascinating and funny talk, Jansen reveals some of the intricate calculations that went into landing the Philae probe on a comet 500 million kilometers from Earth — and shares some incredible photographs taken along the way.

  4. 8:01
    Will Marshall Tiny satellites show us the Earth as it changes in near-real-time

    Satellite imaging has revolutionized our knowledge of the Earth, with detailed images of nearly every street corner readily available online. But Planet Labs' Will Marshall says we can do better and go faster — by getting smaller. He introduces his tiny satellites — no bigger than 10 by 10 by 30 centimeters — that, when launched in a cluster, provide high-res images of the entire planet, updated daily.

  5. 5:20
    Sarah Parcak Archaeology from space

    In this short talk, TED Fellow Sarah Parcak introduces the field of "space archaeology" — using satellite images to search for clues to the lost sites of past civilizations.

  6. 6:38
    Jeremy Kasdin The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets

    Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them — yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" positioned 50,000 km from a telescope to enable imaging of planets about distant stars. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

  7. 13:46
    Tabetha Boyajian The most mysterious star in the universe

    Something massive, with roughly 1,000 times the area of Earth, is blocking the light coming from a distant star known as KIC 8462852, and nobody is quite sure what it is. As astronomer Tabetha Boyajian investigated this perplexing celestial object, a colleague suggested something unusual: Could it be an alien-built megastructure? Such an extraordinary idea would require extraordinary evidence. In this talk, Boyajian gives us a look at how scientists search for and test hypotheses when faced with the unknown.