Our planet is geologically alive, a place of constant change and renewal. Earth’s beating heart is its hot molten core Earth that fuels the volcanoes of the world. Without this source of heat trapped when the planet was first formed, Earth would be a dead world - a world much like Mars: a planet that small could not hold onto its reservoir of heat left over from the formation of the Solar System.
In this documentary, part of the Wonders of the Solar System series, Professor Brian Cox visits some of the most dramatic locations on Earth to explain how the laws of nature create astonishing natural wonders across the Solar System.
From the tallest mountain on Hawaii, the volcano Mauna Kea, he shows how something as basic as a planet’s size can make the difference between life and death. Even on the summit of this volcano, Brian would stand in the shade of the tallest mountain in the Solar System, an extinct volcano on Mars called Olympus Mons, which rises up 27kms.
Yet the last Wonder we meet is a tiny moon of Jupiter. The discoveries made on Io have been astonishing. This fragment of rock should be cold and dead, Brian reveals why Io is home to extraordinary lakes of lava and giant volcanic plumes that erupt 500kms into the sky.