The documentary The Hunt for Planet B, directed by Academy Award nominee Nathaniel Kahn follows scientists as they build and plan for the December launch of NASA’s Webb Space Telescope, a massive machine that will be able to peer more than 13 billion light-years into deep space, towards the very first stars and galaxies in the universe. It will also yield new data into the search for possible signs of life on “exoplanets,” planets outside of our solar system.
The film premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and won a Golden Owl for best science documentary at the 2021 Bergen International Film Festival in Norway. The Hunt for Planet B will premiere Saturday, November 20, on CNN at 9:00pm Eastern.
Through cinema verité interviews, and footage of their work and lives, Kahn introduces viewers to the engineers, astronomers, and other researchers, many of them women, involved in the mission. The Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever built, and for the first time in history, says MIT astrophysicist in the film, Sara Seager, PhD, humans now have the technology to search for signs of life beyond our own solar system.
“Since the beginning of time, we have wondered if we are alone in the universe. To be able to document the building of a machine that takes a giant step towards answering this question, and to get to know people who are dedicating their lives to this search, has been a high point of my career. This mission demonstrates that by working together, we can solve even the most complex problems that face us on this planet,” said Kahn.
Considered by NASA to be the “scientific successor” to the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is 100 times more powerful than Hubble. When launched in December, the Webb, which represents a collaboration of NASA and the European and Canadian space agencies, will begin a journey towards an orbit one million miles away from Earth.