Science isn't just about pursuing knowledge. Some researchers literally chase down their findings across land, sea and sky. This four-part series of immersive radio documentaries, made for the BBC World Service by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is where science meets adventure.
Each story follows a different group of scientists on a fascinating, high-stakes journey. The audience will travel deep into the outback and far across the Pacific Ocean.
This is science on the run.
The four documentaries are presented by four of Australia's best young science journalists. Each one takes the listener somewhere they would never otherwise get to visit, in the company of memorable characters – from Indigenous elders and researchers to retired air-force pilots and fossil-loving farmers.
Programme One: Eye in the Sky
SOFIA is a very unusual observatory.
It’s a 747 aircraft with a hatch in the side, which opens in flight to reveal a large, custom-built telescope – carefully engineered to work inside a moving jet plane.
Its full name is the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and it’s a joint project of NASA and the German space agency, DLR.
On this mission, SOFIA is setting out to study Titan, Saturn’s biggest moon, by flying into the faint shadow that it casts as it blocks the light from a faraway star. It’s a phenomenon called an occultation, and if the mission succeeds, it will reveal new details about Titan’s atmosphere.
The catch? That shadow is moving across the earth at 22 kilometres per second.
Join Dr Jonathan Webb from the ABC in Australia for episode one of The Chase: a special four-part series about science on the run.
Picture: SOFIA is a heavily modified 747SP which was acquired by NASA in the mid-1990s after spending 20 years as a passenger jet. (Credit: Wayne Williams)