About Alien Planet and Darwin 4
Their goal: find and assess any life forms on Darwin 4
“The life we have on Earth must have spontaneously generated itself,” says Stephen W. Hawking, physicist and author of A Brief History of Time.
“It must therefore be possible for life to be generated spontaneously, elsewhere in the universe.”
And, as the story unfolds, that would be Darwin 4, located 6.5 light years from Earth, with two suns and 60 percent of Earth’s gravity.
Having identified Darwin 4 as an environment that could support life, Earth sends an unmanned pilot mission consisting of a “mother ship,” dubbed Von Braun, and three probes: Balboa, da Vinci and Newton. Their goal: find and assess any life forms on Darwin 4.
“We will be the bystanders much more so than we are today with our robotic emissaries,” notes Dr. James Garvin, Chief Scientist, NASA.
“But that’s okay ... they’ll act more like us in the sense that they’ll observe, mine the data, understand the anomalies and find the sweet spots.”
Darwin 4 is experienced through the "eyes" of the probes Newton (also known as Ike) and da Vinci (nicknamed Leo), whose data are relayed back to Von Braun and then communicated back to Earth.
The biological and atmospheric data from the probes and mother ship are relayed through computer voice simulation and on-screen readouts. Initially, the expectation is to find microscopic life, but the probes soon find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem teeming with diversity of life of all sizes just like Earth.
“If you look at the diversity of what species look like on this planet, nature has come up with better things than our best science fiction,” comments J. Craig Venter, of the J. Craig Venter Institute, who successfully mapped the human genome.
The life that Darwin 4 supports tests the limits of technology and the intellects of the greatest minds of our generation. It appears that life on the planet is bigger, faster and more dangerous than we ever imagined.
As Michio Kaku, one of the founders of string theory, and professor at City University of New York, notes, “Chances are, when we meet intelligent life forms in outer space, they're going to be descended from predators.”
Visually based on author/artist Wayne Barlowe’s book Expedition, and rooted in real-life exploratory endeavors scientists have designed the planet of Darwin 4 (which lies in a known star system), the probes and the spacecraft, as well as the various life forms found there.
The mission is brought to vivid life via state-of-the-art computer animation and visual effects by Meteor Studios, the creative team behind the Emmy
The scientists and evolutionary biologists who developed the mission and its possible results include Garvin; Victoria Meadows, research scientist, NASA/JPL Virtual Planet Laboratory; Randy Pollock, space instrumentation system architect, Hamilton Sundstrand; Joan Horvath, executive director, Global Space League; James Kirkland, state paleontologist, Utah Geological Survey; David Moriarty, professor, Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University; and Curtis Clark, professor, Biological Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University.
ALIEN PLANET will also be simulcast in high definition on Discovery HD Theatre, the first-ever Discovery Channel/Discovery HD Theatre simulcast. The producer of ALIEN PLANET is John Copeland (Babylon 5).
Executive Producer for Discovery Channel is Tomi Landis. Executive producers for Evergreen Films are Pierre de Lespinois and Frances LoCascio. Animation and visual effects by Meteor Studios. The writers are Peter Crabbe and Steve Eder.
The program is an Evergreen Films/Discovery Channel coproduction. Discovery Channel is the United States’ largest cable television network, serving 89.8 million households across the nation with the finest in informative entertainment.
Discovery Networks, U.S., a unit of Discovery Communications, Inc., operates and manages Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery HD Theater, Discovery Kids Channel, Discovery Times Channel, The Science Channel, Discovery Home Channel, Military Channel, Discovery en Español and FitTV. The unit also distributes BBC AMERICA.
Visit "Planet Earth"