Tag Archives: solar system

A day in the life of a filmmaker: Working with Commander Chris Hadfield

We are just one week away from the premiere of one of our most exciting original documentaries to date, Miniverse.  The film features the always wonderful CuriosityStream advisory board member Michio Kaku, as well as astronomers Derrick Pitts and Laura Danly, and is hosted by former astronaut Chris Hadfield.  All of you space fans out there may remember Commander Hadfield as a YouTube sensation for his performance of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” aboard the International Space Station.  Well, it turns out he’s just as fun and creative to work with as you might imagine.  We sat down with Doug Cohen, executive producer of Flight 33, to live vicariously through him about working with one of the world’s greatest astronauts.

Q: What was Chris Hadfield (CH) like to work with?

A: Chris is a former fighter pilot and an astronaut, so the things that felt like challenges to the rest of us were no sweat to him.  To quote one member of our crew, “Chris Hadfield is the best human being I’ve ever met.”  It’s not just that he’s charming, curious and tireless; it’s also that he sings, plays guitar, tells great stories and, of course, he’s been to space!

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened while shooting Miniverse?

A: Chris had spent the whole day driving at about 40 miles per hour through the Mojave Desert while chatting with astronomer Laura Danly.  We kept his speed down to reduce the amount of road noise during the conversation.  As the sun set, we prepped to shoot beauty shots of the car driving down the lonely desert highway.  I radioed to Chris that he should drive past the camera, and since we weren’t rolling sound he was now free to go as fast as he wanted.  When I called “action”, he put the pedal to the metal and whipped past us at 122 miles per hour with poor Laura Danly holding on for dear life!  That’s the last time I tell a former fighter pilot to drive as fast as he wants!

Q: Describe the dynamic between CH and Michio Kaku.

A: They were excited to meet each other!  It was fun to watch the contrast between astrophysicist and astronaut. Michio made it clear that despite his fascination with space, he had no interest in doing something risky like traveling to Mars.  Chris, on the other hand, said that the danger is precisely what makes him want to do it.

 

Q: Between CH and Derrick Pitts?

A: Derrick would have liked to be an astronaut himself, so he was thrilled to be Chris’ guide for the outer planets.  The two of them bonded over some packets of freeze-dried “astronaut ice cream.”

 

Q: Between CH and Laura Danly?

A: When we asked Laura if she wanted to participate in the program, she said “you had me at Chris Hadfield”.  They had a lot of time to talk as we drove from the mountains to the desert, and it was amazing how many things they saw reminded them of Star Trek episodes.

 

Q: What’s the hardest part of shooting so much inside of a car?

A: We had five cameras rolling inside the car at all times, plus cameras affixed to the exterior and to a chase car.  That’s a lot of cameras that need a lot of tending.  You are constantly stopping to troubleshoot misbehaving gear.  We studied how James Corden does it for Carpool Karaoke and how Seinfeld’s team does it for Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and took the best ideas from both.  The difference with our show is that we were really traveling from place to place, so we couldn’t just stake out a route on a local road and keep circling.  The entire country was our “set”.

Q: Why did the cops keep pulling CH over?

A: We had no problems in most of the country, but in New York and Washington, D.C. the police were extremely “curious” about this car with cameras all over the windows.  Sometimes, we would neglect to remove our prop license plate that said “ROCKET”.  That also drew the attention of the police on a couple occasions.  One officer removed the license plate and cut in half!  Luckily, we had made an extra one.  In general, when we would tell the cops that we were making a science documentary with an astronaut and a bunch of astrophysicists, they let us go with nothing more than a confused look.

Q: Are there any funny stories from shooting in NYC near the Freedom Tower?

A: We shot at the Brooklyn Bridge across the river from Freedom Tower just before sunset, and as we were shooting, people were lining up to meet Chris and Michio.  This actually happened almost everywhere–hotel lobbies, the steps of the Washington Monument–people from all over the world would show up and ask for an autograph or a selfie.

Miniverse premieres the week of April 17, only on CuriosityStream, and will be available in standard, HD and Ultra HD 4K resolution.

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Destination: Jupiter + The Year of the Rooster

February 2nd will mark one of NASA’s Juno space probe’s closest flybys to Jupiter.  We are celebrating by sharing what we’ve learned along the way since Juno first set out to Jupiter with a newly released episode in our original series Destination: Jupiter!  Then, travel to China during the peak of this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations with our newly curated content collection, China.  It’s a busy week for curious minds and we’ve got you covered with content spanning the globe and the Universe.

Destination: Jupiter

Seven months since the Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4th, 2016, the mission has started to lift the veil on the largest and most mysterious planet in our solar system.  Since its initial approach, the craft has been on a 53-day orbit around the gas giant.  Thus far, there have been three close flybys in August, October, and December of 2016.  During that time, Juno has flown a mere 2600 miles above the Jovian clouds, employing eight cutting-edge space exploration instruments to collect images and peer below the thick atmosphere of the planet, hoping to reveal its inner most secrets.

As the next flyby approaches on February 2nd, the Juno team will be tasked with making an unexpected and critical trajectory decision, impacting the future of the carefully-planned mission.  Review what has been uncovered so far in Mission Update, the second episode in our exclusive, original Destination: Jupiter series, and learn how you can become an active participant in the Juno Mission to Jupiter!

 

Chinese New Year

The most anticipated global event in China’s calendar is in full swing, when people take to the streets to ring in another year.  Unlike the festivities of many countries, which always take place at midnight between December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year is a moveable festivity.  This year, the celebration began on January 27 (New Year’s Eve) and continue for around two weeks (ending on February 2) and the year will last until February 15, 2018.  This year is the “Year of the Rooster” – those born in 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993 and 2005 are known as Roosters.

To honor the occasion, we have created a new content collection, full of our most fascinating and informative documentaries about China.  The collection contains 11 programs and spans over 12 hours, guaranteeing that you can become an expert on all things China by the time this year’s New Year celebrations come to a close.

Find the collection in its entirety here.  Happy New Year!

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Mars: The Red Planet

If you have been following NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover, then you know it has had quite an eventful couple of months!  It has recently discovered an odd-shaped iron meteorite that some likened to “an alien egg,” viewed spectacularly layered rock formations and, just last week, slabs of rock cross-hatched with shallow ridges were discovered that likely originated as cracks in drying mud.  This makes it a perfect time to explore our new collection, Mars: The Red Planet.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury.  Named after the Roman God of War, it is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.  50 years of space exploration have brought us closer to understanding Mars, but is it as hospitable as many experts think?

This newly curated collection is made up of eight programs, totaling just over six hours of content all about Mars.  Perfect for all age ranges, the content covers everything from whether or not there is water on Mars to the likelihood of life on Mars to what it would take for humans to colonize Mars.

So, why not make it a night of star gazing and dreaming of far away galaxies?  Grab some popcorn and get ready to binge on facts and speculations about the Red Planet.  Find the full collection here, only on CuriosityStream.

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Top 10 Curious Moments of 2016

As we look back on 2016, we want to take this opportunity to thank you for being a part of our curious community.  This past year has been monumental for science and technology and CuriosityStream been there every step of the way with documentaries that explore key moments in science, history, space, technology, nature and the human spirit.

Journey down memory lane by binge-watching our top 10 curious moments of the year.  Who knows what 2017 will have in store?

               

               

               

               

               

 

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How ‘Deep Time History’ Just Got Personal

They say knowledge is power. If that’s the case, then I felt on top of the world after watching CuriosityStream’s new 3-part series Deep Time History. It stuck with me for several days because I couldn’t help feeling a little overwhelmed by our universe’s astonishing 14-billion year history. It got me thinking about how brief the human experience is in comparison. And yet, there are humans who have significantly impacted our existence throughout time. Julius Caesar. Christopher Columbus. Albert Einstein. Mother Teresa. Malala Yousafzai. The list goes on.

As a marketer, reflecting on the human experience made me curious about the history of CuriosityStream’s community of viewers and followers. That curiosity felt like a natural alignment to the very premise of Deep Time History. So, we put the question out there as a way for people to bring their personal history into the larger conversation about the series: “What’s YOUR story?” Centered around the hashtag #MYdeeptimehistory, we asked people to share photos from their past for the world to see. I’ve been inspired, I’ve laughed and I’ve reflected on my own history while scrolling through the responses.

I dug up my old family photos and stumbled upon a few gems that I couldn’t help but share, including the baby picture below of me (in a very coordinated outfit, if I do say so myself) standing between two vintage cars.

Little Michael

I soon expanded to my father’s photo library and the scenery he has captured on camera. You see, my father is a world traveler and a few years ago, he put some of his favorite photos on a disc so that my brothers and I could cherish them forever. I learned that one of the places he has been to is The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the Los Glaciares National Park in southwest Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. I had no idea. But here is the photographic evidence to prove it.

Perito Morena Glacier

As the #MYdeeptimehistory hashtag started to spread, it wasn’t long before some people within my personal network got in on the game. While I hate to play favorites, it was my friend and colleague John’s post that took my breath away. John is an educator who has trekked across the globe and fortunately, he always brings his camera along with him.

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In summary, the three engaging hours I spent watching Deep Time History turned into something much bigger. I loved the series and by learning about the history of our universe, I was inspired to reflect on the history of my own family and friends, which has taught me new things about some of the people I am closest to. And I hope you will do the same. Check out the series for yourself and share your photos with our curious community by tagging them on Twitter and Instagram using #MYdeeptimehistory.

We all have some amazing stories to tell. What’s yours?

Michael Hammerstrom

Michael Hammerstrom is CuriosityStream’s Manager of Marketing and Engagement. Follow him on Twitter @mhammerstrom.

Deep Time History is available now in ultra HD 4K, HD and standard definition on CuriosityStream.  The exclusive, original 3-part documentary series offers captivating insight into the links between astronomy, deep time geologic events and human civilization.

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A Rendezvous With The King Of Planets

NASA’s Juno orbiter is speeding toward Jupiter with a flyby expected on July 4th.  Leading up to that rendezvous, CuriosityStream is giving viewers an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look into the story behind the mission to the gas giant.  Destination: Jupiter is a new, short-form documentary available now on CuriosityStream, in ultra HD 4K, as well as HD and standard definition.

The Juno Mission is one of the most highly anticipated planetary explorations to date.  Scientists hope it will help reveal the mysteries of Jupiter’s violent storms, its composition and formation, as well as uncover some secrets about our own planet Earth.

Destination: Jupiter chronicles the inside story behind the ground-breaking mission, featuring interviews with its chief scientists, as well as captivating CGI produced by NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.  Also, get a sneak peek at some of the state-of-the-art technology on board the spacecraft that will help it power through and survive Jupiter’s severe high-radiation environment—the harshest in the solar system.



 

And stay tuned in with CuriosityStream.  On July 4th, Juno is expected to officially catch up to Jupiter and enter its orbit.  Mission scientists will be anxiously awaiting the first signal of success… a communication that will take 48 minutes to travel back to Earth.  And in the coming days, CuriosityStream and Destination: Jupiter will bring you the nail-biting action from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

If we’ve peaked your curiosity about other destinations in our solar system and you’re ready to dive deep into the mysteries of the galaxy, you’ll enjoy CuriosityStream’s Destination: Pluto, an original, 13-part series following the New Horizons mission from its inception to its close encounter with the dwarf planet, as well as Destination: Mars, a 5-part series chronicling a bold plan to land humans on the red planet.

Enjoy the adventure, and stay curious!

 

 

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Celebrating the Pluto Flyby!

A team from CuriosityStream witnessed the historic moment of the Pluto Flyby!

“The Pluto mission is a human endeavor” said Alan Stern, as the crowd at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory patiently awaited the highly anticipated flyby of New Horizons by Pluto on the morning of July 14th, 2015 just minutes before 8:00am.

The big lit screens gave the count, five minutes away and everybody was standing by; American flags in hand, we saw media, scientists, mission team members and international visitors come together for Pluto’s final reveal and well deserved comeback. Bill Nye, the Science Guy, joined the enthusiastic group to the side of the stage, as the buzz starting growing. Multiple electronic devices on hand, cameramen filming on their mobiles and video equipment simultaneously, and a man three seats down surprised that the picture he sent had just reached the other side of the world “I just sent this to Australia!” he exclaimed looking at his screen. There was even a replica of the New Horizons probe turned into a hat that was passed around among some lucky heads.

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Before we could even realize it, the countdown had started. Nervous eyes scanned the room looking for a sense of understanding of what was about to take place. Alan Stern and New Horizons team members encouraged everybody to join in — “Make sure they can hear us all over the world!”. A countdown like no other; actually, one of the best countdowns you could ever witness. Far beyond the hype of New Year’s and watching fireworks in the sky, this was it: a once in a lifetime event, for all the talented individuals from the New Horizons, NASA, and JPL teams, that took nine years of continuous monitoring and a very long waiting period.

And so it went, from 10 down to the last second, the hundreds of people gathered for the early morning event loudly raised their voices as they experienced history in the making. This time, there were no pictures, no live transmission on screen, no man floating down the iconic stairs or a spacecraft roughly landing on a red planet. As invisible and low key as the Pluto flyby was, it was also a collective mind-blowing understanding of how far we have come – the final frontier of our solar system has now been explored. And as a lonely probe continues to fly into the unknown beyond Pluto and onto the Kuiper Belt, we are certain that we can now welcome a new chapter of space exploration and the next set of discoveries — lead, as always, by the curious ones.

Laura Santana

Marketing and Production

Relive the excitement of July 14th, 2015!

 

 

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