Nearly a billion miles from the Sun lies perhaps the most captivating and beloved planet: Saturn. Over the past 40 years, a handful of space probes has given us glimpses of this gas giant, relaying tantalizing discoveries like a massive hexagonal jet-stream that caps its north pole. But it was NASA’s Cassini, which toured Saturn’s realm for 13 years, that delivered the most astounding new insights. Saturn’s icy rings—about 45,000 miles wide and only 30 feet thick—turn out to be younger than the dinosaurs, raising questions about their origins. Could they be the remnants of a moon ripped apart by Saturn’s gravity? NOVA takes you inside Cassini’s epic journey as it makes its most stunning discovery yet: geysers of ice and gas on the moon Enceladus show that it could have all the ingredients for life. But to protect it, Cassini’s team must make a bittersweet decision.
NOVA: The Planets, Wednesday at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.