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Computer-Animated Special "Alien Planet: Darwin 4"

Top Scientists Stephen Hawking, Michio Kaku and J. Craig Venter

“Star Wars” Filmmaker George Lucas, Discussing Life Outside Our Solar System.

Rooted in the latest scientific research, ALIEN PLANET takes viewers on a dramatic virtual mission of the future through the possibilities of life outside of our solar system and the deconstruction of the living form, based on the laws of evolution and physics.

Mankind’s greatest adventure is only decades away: In our century, unmanned space probes equipped with artificial intelligence will be sent to search for life on planets beyond our solar system.

This is the latest scientific research from the NASA Origins Program, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Planet-Finder Mission and European Space Agency’s Darwin Project. The result is a special two-hour computer-animated TV program that features some of the world’s most renowned scientists, including Stephen W. Hawking, Michio Kaku.

Also featured on Alien Planet: Darwin 4 are J. Craig Venter, plus Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas, who discuss the possibilities of life outside our solar system and deconstruct the animals on Darwin 4, based on the laws of evolution and physics.

"Alien Planet: Darwin 4" Index

"Alien Planet" Darwin4

But what will happen when we find life on other planets?

Alient Planet Darwin 4"Alien Planet" takes viewers on a dramatic virtual mission of the future – a trip to a fictional planet known as Darwin 4.

Imagine a world like our own, just 6.5 light years away – but teeming with life forms unlike anything found on Earth

Take a simulated journey into the near future, where astronomers and biologists alike marvel at the potential of Darwin IV, a nearby planet with two suns, 60% gravity and an atmosphere capable of supporting life.

Having identified Darwin as a likely home for life, scientists send a series of unmanned probes to the planet. Initially, the expectation is to find microscopic life.

But the probes soon find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem, teeming with diverse creatures of all sizes.Peering through the "eyes" of the probes, marvel at the planet's bizarre inhabitants.

Like the lumbering Groveback, which supports a mini forest of vegetation on its back; deadly Prongheads who hunt in packs like wolves; and the graceful Gyrosprinter, an elk-like creature with a body dotted by luminescent biolights.

The look and biology of each animal is based on the laws of evolution and physics, then modeled to fit the hypothetical environment of Darwin IV. Leading minds in the fields of paleontology, astrophysics and astrobiology explain how these creatures might evolve otherworldy characteristics like hollow bodies, "jet" propulsion and piercing tongue skewers.

Continue Reading about Darwin 4, see photos from the program and watch videos

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