Preview Subtitle for Death Of A Nation


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On January 2nd, 1959, with
the space age barely a year old,

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the Soviet Union
launched Lunik - "little moon".

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It was sent to plant
a Soviet pennant on the moon.

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Within hours of the launch,
it became clear

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that Lunik was going
to miss its target.

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As the Soviet scientists
watched their tiny probe

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sail out to join the planets

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in an endless journey
around the sun,

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an inspired thought
occurred to them.

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They renamed their spacecraft
Mechta - "The Dream".

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(Music: The Planets
by Gustav Holst)

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In 1926, when this recording of
Holst's Planets suite was made,

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there were thought
to be eight planets.

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Then, in 1929,

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a young man arrived
at an observatory

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in Flagstaff, Arizona,
to start the search for a ninth.

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At that time, little
was known about the planets.

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Closest to the sun lies Mercury,

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a tiny world of iron and rock,
barely discernible in the glare.

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Then Venus,
perhaps a second Earth,

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hidden beneath
a blanket of cloud.

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Then Earth.

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And beyond us, Mars,
the Red Planet.

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It has seasons, polar caps,

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and the possibility of life.

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Far beyond these rocky worlds
are the distant giants.

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Jupiter, over 1,000 times
bigger than the Earth,

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and Saturn, with its distinctive
and dramatic rings.

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The two remaining planets

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are 15 times the size
of the Earth, yet are so distant

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that they appear
as the faintest of stars.

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Uranus - an aquamarine mystery.

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And finally, Neptune,

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a world that moved
unevenly across the sky.

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This irregular movement

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suggested the presence
of a more distant planet,

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whose gravitational tug might be
toying with Neptune's orbit -

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Planet X.

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'February 18th, 1930.

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'Clyde Tombaugh,
sitting in an office

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'very near to where we are now,

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'looking at the photographs he
had taken of the night sky...'

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With his eye at the eyepiece of
the blink comparator back there.

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'And he had been
searching on the plates
[...]
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