The show, which premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on PBS stations, showcases views of Earth from space — and also reveals the scientific importance of satellite photography.
The first satellites helped trigger a space race that stoked the Cold War. But cameras posted above Earth also make plenty of scientific contributions.
They allow scientists to measure oncoming storms and the extent of the flooding that follows. They help lead researchers to animal life in places that are hard to monitor or explore on land — such as Antarctica, where researchers can use satellite imagery to track penguin colonies using the brown color of their guano trails. And they capture the ebb and flow of animal and plant life.
Episode 1 of the series, “Moving Planet,” is filled with gorgeous imagery and breathtaking views. One of its highlights is footage of the 2017 solar eclipse taken from high-altitude weather balloons launched by schoolchildren and college students across the United States. (Not all satellite footage involves rockets.)
The live, near-space views of the eclipse flip traditional eclipse imagery on its head. Suddenly, the eclipse isn’t the sun disappearing behind the black disc of the Moon’s shadow — it’s the sweep of that shadow across the landscape. And imagery from the International Space Station shows the enormous shadow’s trajectory across the entire country, illustrating the scale of the celestial body.
Whether you watch for the scientific tidbits or just the pretty pictures of the planet, “Life From Above” offers plenty of eye candy — and a refreshing bit of perspective thanks to cameras that literally rise above daily life.