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When the Voyager spacecraft left Earth in 1977, few besides Carl Sagan believed that the search for extraterrestrial life was anything more than fantasy. But in the decades that followed, new discoveries—volcanoes on lo, a liquid ocean on Europa, and nitrogen geysers on Triton, to name just a few—have turned that fantastical pursuit of life beyond Earth into a bona fide scientific endeavor.
The short film SECOND GENESIS: THE QUEST FOR LIFE BEYOND EARTH follows planetary scientist Carolyn Porco as she explores what it takes to look for life beyond Earth, and what conditions are required for life to exist. Porco, an imaging scientist on Voyager and leader of the imaging team on the Cassini mission to Saturn, makes the case that Saturn’s moon Enceladus—with its plumes of water vapor spewing into space, confirmed organic materials and evidence of the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of its liquid ocean—is the most promising place to look.
Could Enceladus, with its signature “tiger stripes” and active plumes, be the key to proving once and for all that life is not unique to Earth? And what it would mean—both scientifically, and spiritually—if we found evidence of a true second genesis right here in our own galactic back yard?
AN HHMI TANGLED BANK STUDIOS PRODUCTION IN ASSOCIATION WITH MARKET ROAD FILMS FOR PBS