NOVA’s most popular science documentaries of 2022 | NOVA

The past year brought shocking and awe-inspiring stories from the world of science – and NOVA was there. From the most ambitious telescope ever built to an accident that crippled the global economy, we bring you the five most viewed documentaries NOVA released in 2022.

Arctic sinkholes

Colossal explosions rock a remote corner of the Siberian tundra, leaving massive craters in their wake. In Alaska, a huge lake is erupting with bubbles of flammable gas. Scientists are discovering that these puzzling phenomena are adding up to a ticking time bomb as long-frozen permafrost melts, releasing vast amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. What are the effects of these dramatic developments in the Arctic? Scientists and local communities alike are struggling to understand the magnitude of the methane threat and what it means for our climate future.

Ultimate space telescope

Follow the dramatic story of the James Webb Space Telescope – the most complex machine ever launched into space. If it works, scientists believe this new eye will look at the universe deeper in time and space than ever before at the birth of galaxies and may even be able to “sniff out” the atmospheres of exoplanets as we search for signs of life beyond the earth. But getting it to work is no easy task. The telescope is much larger than its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope, and it has to conduct its observations a million miles from Earth – so there will be no chance of repairing it. This means there is no room for error; The most ambitious telescope ever built has to function perfectly. Meet the engineers who make it possible and join them on their high-stakes journey to uncover new mysteries of the universe.

Why ships crash

When the bow of the colossal container ship “Ever Given” plowed onto the bank of the Suez Canal on March 23, 2021, international supply chains ground to a halt. What went wrong? Follow the dramatic efforts to free the ship and the investigation into one of the costliest shipwrecks of all time. Shipping experts are analyzing other recent accidents and trying to figure out how such devastating accidents could be prevented.

Aerial view of a container ship lying diagonally across a canal surrounded by small tugboats

Ace of Ice Footprints

When and how did the first humans come to North America? A new discovery has turned archaeologists’ theories on their head: Thousands of ancient footprints stretching for miles across New Mexico’s White Sands National Park, capturing moments when Ice Age humans encountered now-extinct beasts, including mammoths and giant ground sloths . These footprints tell an intimate story about what life was like during the Ice Age and reveal startling new evidence of when humans arrived in North America.

6 footprints embedded in beige crusty desert surface

The Mystery of the Nazca Desert

One of the world’s greatest ancient mysteries, the Lines of Nazca is a dense network of intersecting lines, geometric shapes, and animal figures etched across 200 square miles of the Peruvian desert. Who created them and why? Since their rediscovery in the 1920s, scholars and enthusiasts have come up with countless theories as to their purpose. Now archaeologists have uncovered hundreds of long-hidden lines and figures, as well as evidence of ancient rituals, offering new clues to the origins and motivations behind the giant desert symbols.

Aerial video of Nazca insects etched into brown desert plains

Receive emails about upcoming NOVA programs and related content, as well as reports on current events through a scientific lens.