JPL and the Space Age: The Hunt for Space Rocks

Published 2023-06-15
Asteroids and comets are among the oldest objects in our solar system. They mostly reside at safe distances from Earth, but some find their way into our planetary backyard.

Every day, the Earth receives visitors from outer space: tons of space debris that mostly goes unnoticed. Some of these “shooting stars,” however, do survive the fiery descent through the atmosphere. That’s what happened to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago when a massive asteroid – or comet – struck Earth. But as the saying goes: "The dinosaurs didn't have a space agency. Fortunately, we do."

“The Hunt for Space Rocks” chronicles JPLs pioneering work to understand asteroids and comets as part of NASA’s larger effort to protect our planet from cosmic marauders. From JPL’s effort to mount a mission to study the most famous comet of all – Halley’s comet – to the lab’s current role in planetary defense with its Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). The documentary drives home a clear message: We need to find the asteroids and comets before they find us.

Documentary length: 1 hour 52 minutes


This is the 16th episode in the documentary series “JPL and the Space Age,” which uses rare archival footage and interviews to help tell the story of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s trailblazing role in space exploration.

Watch all episodes of the “JPL and the Space Age” series:
* JPL’s Website –
* JPL’s YouTube Channel –    • JPL and the Space Age  

All Comments (21)
  • @user-ic7xe7yi2y
    I started my career on an internship working on IRAS. Since then WISE and several other IR telescopes have been launched. It's wonderful to watch the technology advance.
  • A huge thank you and deepest respect to the men and women who made this possible, and dared to dream it was even possible in the first place. It's a joy to watch.
  • @scrappydoo7887
    Such a fascinating subject. I'll never stop being spellbound by the limitless variety and possibilities that are out there all around us
  • @ajsalvlk
    Hands down best content created about asteroids and our current understanding and defence capability against its threats
  • @BrianGreeson
    JPL. Thank you for creating these documentaries and sharing them with us here. What an excellent way to highlight the numerous contributions JPL teams have made. Bravo!
  • AS space nerd, I love watching and learning ,more and more about this space. BIG THANKS.
  • @timohearn4454
    The DART mission certainly sits upon the shoulders of great scientists and engineers. Can't imagine that mission would be possible without prior work ans successes such as this. Such beautiful and wonderful work.
  • @richardzeitz54
    This is an excellent production! As a person who grew up watching those old school NOVA documentaries on PBS, in the 1970s and 1980s, this production is exactly my speed. If you like information dense, clearly produced, no silly frills documentaries, this is for you. This is a what educational video should be - highly informative, well structured, dense. Wonderful!
  • @rustymotor
    I am amazed how space research has progressed in my lifetime, I remember the Voyager missions and loved looking at the images when they were published and also the Mars Viking landers. I also remember at School a teacher said that Venus was most likely a cloud wrapped tropical water world inhabited by Lizard people floating on rafts, I was so disappointed when the Soviet Venera missions finally reached the surface and revealed the true state of venus, no Lizard people to visit. Anyway I hope to live long enough to see more exciting Space missions and maybe find life on one of Jupiters or Saturns moons!
  • @davisgreen2099
    YouTube at it's very best!! This is very important science that can quite literally save all life on Earth!! Well done, JPL!!😮😊
  • @adityakrishna4101
    Amazing set of documentaries… lots to learn from… please keep sharing your experience in this format… I am sure there are masses of science enthusiasts who will one day or the other definitely be looking back to this! Love from India 🇮🇳
  • @cjh1142
    The narrator is the same guy that does the Mass Effect codex entries. It has to be. Incredible voice!
  • @Slicksparky
    I just have one thing to say. I'm not an astrophysicist I have no type of degree on the subject. But I have heard many people speak who have such degrees let's say we should not have any type of asteroid belt within the planets and comets should not exist. There is only one explanation for why they do and it is because there was at one point another planet in our solar system that was struck by the 9th planet that was recently finally proven to be in existence. Call it Planet X or Nibiru or whatever when it smashed through that other planet a left large chunks of its crust and Globs of its ocean that of course in zero gravity will turn into giant water droplets. Hence comets are created. The only thing that makes sense for how water would exist in such large quantities out in space and would be full of debris. Just
  • @JonnoPlays
    This channel is incredible I'm so glad I found it. So much pseudo science nonsense out there now that the algorithm pushes instead of good content like this.
  • @stevewhalen6973
    Great chronologically detailed account of the many ever increasingly complex successful accomplishments of the many very devoted hard working and brilliant minds of the space agency . Great video , Thanks
  • @zack_120
    Humanity saving information and projects, every earthzen should watch and appreciate 👍👍👍👍👍
  • @user-iu2rt9eo4l
    Awesome documentary, thanks a lot. It was fascinating, and the work done by JPL is so important.
  • @kspencerian
    This has been a wonderful series, and this one had importance that comes literally close to home. You've done general videos on many Mars and outer planet trips. How about some love for Mariner 10, MESSENGER and the incoming BepiColombo--and why we've sent so few things there, and what missions might land something there. A Venus show would be naturally populated with Venera stuff, so perhaps a Mercury/Venus show? Thanks again.