Behind the Scenes of Expedition Unknown: Hunt for Extraterrestrials

Josh Gates travels across the world to investigate what we know about life on other planets. Follow along as he goes behind the scenes at NASA’s Space Center Houston, a world-class observatory in the Chilean desert and the site of one of the world’s most famous UFO sightings in England.

World’s Largest Radio Telescope

Josh visits the enormous Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, W. Va. The world’s largest steerable radio telescope clocks in at 110 meters by 100 meters.

Walking the Distance

Josh walks across the Green Bank Telescope, which detects magnetic fields, atoms and molecules in distant space. Scientists use the detections to further knowledge about star formations, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project crew uses the telescope to look for signs of intelligent life in outer space.

Zero Gravity

Josh saddles up in Space Center Houston’s Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) and experiences what zero gravity feels like.

Finding Balance

The ARGOS system uses an overhead crane system to simulate zero gravity for astronaut training and testing robotic structures in zero-gravity environments.

Rocket to the Moon

The Saturn V rocket, currently on display at NASA Space Center Houston, is a 363-foot-tall shuttle built to send astronauts to the moon. The first Saturn V went to space during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968.

Rocket Power

Fully fueled, the Saturn V rocket weighs 6.2 million pounds and generates more power than 85 Hoover Dams at launch.

Deep Space Craft

The Orion module is a new spacecraft that will send astronauts to deep space, farther than any space shuttle or rocket has gone before. The module has the ability to send up to six humans to faraway asteroids or Mars.

All Aboard the Orion

Under the direction of Orion crew manager Laura Kernin, Josh explores the Orion module, which was designed to send astronauts farther into deep space than any other spacecraft.

Mission Control

Perhaps most well-known as the room where Apollo 13 astronauts messaged, “Houston, we have a problem,” Johnson Space Center’s Mission Control is the hub where all NASA launches are managed and active spacecrafts are monitored.

Mission Control Call

Josh makes a phone call from NASA’s Mission Control on his behind-the-scenes tour with flight director Mike Lammers.

Touring the Mars Rover Vehicle

The Mars Rover Vehicle’s designer, Justin Ridley, shows Josh how the rover will help future astronauts move more easily around Mars.

Off-World Vehicle

A model vehicle built for Mars exploration, complete with all-terrain tires, can be seen at Space Center Houston.

Touring Independence

Space Center visitors can tour the interior of a replica of the Independence space shuttle and NASA 905 shuttle carrier in the Independence Plaza exhibit.

In-Flight Meal Service

In-flight dinners look a little different when you’re traveling to space. A sample dinner of steak, macaroni and cheese, green beans with mushrooms, and cherry-blueberry cobbler are vacuum-sealed in pouches and cut open when crew members are ready to eat.

Space Food

Back at Space Center Houston, Josh gets his fill of drinking water from a sealed, space-ready pouch.

Desert Observatory

The Paranal Observatory in northern Chile’s Atacama Desert has some of the best views of the night sky on Earth, along with world-class infrared telescopes that can capture the faintest light from faraway stars, planets and asteroids.

Very Large Telescopes

The Paranal Observatory houses four VLTs, or Very Large Telescopes, that can be used separately or together to view objects in space that are four billion times fainter than can be detected by the naked human eye.

Trekking in the Chilean Desert

Josh takes a walk across the driest desert in the world, where the world-famous Paranal Observatory is located.

High-Altitude Geysers

About six hours northeast of the Paranal Observatory lies the scenic El Tatio Geyser field, which is one of the world’s highest-altitude geysers at roughly 14,173 feet above sea level.

Geysers in Action

At sunrise, tourists come to El Tatio Geyser field to observe early-morning geysers that dissipate into columns of steam in the cold mountain air.

Desert Pools

Sulfurous pools bubble and steam at El Tatio Geyser Field, while visitors dip into natural hot springs nearby.

Traffic Jam

While traveling in Zimbabwe, a herd of elephants crossing the street cause a bit of a traffic delay for the crew on their way to Victoria Falls.

Welcome to Victoria Falls

Josh is greeted with open arms once he and the crew arrive in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Ariel School UFO sighting

In Ruwa, Zimbabwe, Josh and James Fox meet with witnesses 23 years after the Ariel School UFO sighting.

Bentwaters Air Force Base

Josh investigates the Rendlesham Forest Incident, also known as “Britain’s Roswell,” behind the scenes at the decommissioned Bentwaters Air Force Base in Suffolk, England.

Life in Outer Space?

Professor Milton Wainwright from the University of Sheffield shows Josh his research around the theory of panspermia, which posits that life exists throughout outer space.

Weather Balloons in Progress

A crew of academics and professionals work to launch a weather balloon into the stratosphere to collect space particles.