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This video was filmed on October 24, 2012 as part of the National Geographic Live! Lecture series at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Bill Nye, executive director of The Planetary Society, moderates a panel of leading NASA scientists as they celebrate 50 years of solar system exploration and look forward to what's to come. The panel includes Dr. Ed Stone, former director, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab; Dr. Margie Kivelson, professor of Space Physics, UCLA; Dr. Kevin Hand, deputy chief scientist for Solar System Exploration NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, and Dr. Bethany Ehlmann, research scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

Each panelist explains his or her role in space exploration and then answers questions from the audience. Are we alone? Is there life on other planets? Why is space exploration so important?



  • Space exploration brings out the best in people (start-01:40 min.)
  • Dr. Ed Stone: space missions that change our view of the solar system (01:41-03:58 min.)
  • Space exploration is humbling (03:59-04:18 min.)
  • Dr. Margie Kivelson: magnetometers, studying Io, and Galileo (04:19-08:11 min.) 
  • Dr. Kevin Hand: connecting space exploration to understanding life on Earth and the search for habitable worlds (08:12-13:51 min.)
  • Where did we come from? Are we alone? (13:52-14:15min.)
  • Dr. Bethany Ehlmann: worlds to be explored, Mars, and controlling rovers (14:16-18:26 min.)
  • The importance of speaking up for space exploration (18:27-19:27 min.)
  • Q/A 1: Can we prevent Earth from becoming Mars? (19:28-21:51 min.)
  • Q/A 2: How did matter (the elements) get to Earth? (21:52-23:11 min.)
  • Q/A 3: How do we stress the importance of space exploration? (23:12-28:41 min.)

Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
  • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
  • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
  • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?

study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

gas giant

one of the four enormous outermost planets in the solar system (Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus), composed mostly of gases instead of rock. Also called a Jovian planet.


scientific instrument used to measure the presence, strength, and direction of Earth's magnetic field.


magnetic field surrounding a planet.


fourth planet from the sun, between Earth and Jupiter.


vehicle that remotely explores a region, such as the surface of a moon, planet, or other celestial body.

solar system

the sun and the planets, asteroids, comets, and other bodies that orbit around it.

space probe

set of scientific instruments and tools launched from Earth to study the atmosphere and composition of space and other planets, moons, or celestial bodies.