BBC World News launches new series of Horizons looking at space innovation

Date: 02.04.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.04
Category: BBC World News
Now in its third year, a new series of Horizons starts Saturday 6 April on BBC World News.

London, 18 March 2012. The third series of Horizons will continue the search for the ideas and people tackling some of the big challenges facing our planet. This season, award-winning business journalist Adam Shaw and his team will report from a wide range of countries, including India, China, Japan, South America, the United States and Europe.

The first episode takes a look at how scientific innovations in outer space are helping to improve health, fitness and wellbeing here on Earth as Adam visits NASA’s Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley, California, where he talks to Professor Mason Peck, NASA’s Chief Technology Officer.

Professor Peck is NASA’s principal advisor on technology, charged with ensuring that the knowledge and skills developed from public funding of space mission science are also benefitting the day-to-day lives of ordinary people on Earth by building innovative partnerships with industry and academia.

“We have affected the world in ways we can’t even imagine,” says Professor Peck, “but the fact is NASA has a role in offering a benefit to all from what it’s investing in. Taxpayers expect us to return that investment so the return in their investment in our technologies is spin-offs into the public. We have a role here in creating the future, enabling the future.”

In this programme, Adam and Professor Peck discuss NASA’s role in technology transfer, sharing new discoveries with the private sector and commercialising technologies that spin off into our everyday lives. At the NASA Research Park, Adam visits two companies collaborating with NASA on projects they believe could not only improve the health of people here on Earth but also extend the boundaries of manned space exploration.

Firstly Adam tries out an exercise technology designed by Vasper Systems to increase the production of natural human growth hormones and help the body rejuvenate, a goal that NASA hopes could help prevent the effects of bone and muscle damage on astronauts in zero gravity. Adam also meets the team behind the Scanadu Scout, an innovative home medical diagnostic tool that creates a personalised, real-time health feed by collecting the body’s vital signs to help people better understand how their bodies function and provide more information to doctors.

In part two, Adam and Professor Peck discuss how NASA research in astrophysics and Earth sciences are helping scientists not only better understand our own planet, but could also lead to the discovery of new planets capable of supporting human life in the next two decades.

Finally, at SkyTran Adam finds out how computer software designed to operate robots in space could play a pivotal role in a revolutionary new approach to mass urban transportation - a lightweight, high-speed urban personal rapid transit concept designed around a network of elevated guide ways and magnetically levitated, driverless pods.

Notes to editors

The Horizons series, sponsored by DuPont, airs weekly on Saturdays at 01:30 and 08:30, Sundays at 14:30 and 20:30 (all times GMT). Further information, online videos and behind the scenes content can be found at bbc.com/horizonsbusiness (non-UK only) from 1 April 2013.

For all the latest news, behind-the-scenes pictures/videos and updates from Adam Shaw visit facebook.com/horizonsTVseries or on twitter at @horizonsbiz.

JC