The hunt for gravitational waves could be nearing success

12 February, 2015

I have a new article published on my Across the Universe blog at The Guardian.


"Physicists are growing confident of detecting ephemeral ripples in the universe, and they are gearing up to engage the public in the discovery.


Here’s a date for your diary: 1 January 2017. It’s the day that physicists are predicting for a great scientific breakthrough: the first direct detection of gravitational waves.

Even if you have not yet heard about gravitational waves, you are going to in the coming years. When they are detected, it will revolutionise our investigation of the universe. ..."


You can read the full article here.

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Why Nasa’s Europa mission has people excited

04 February, 2015

I have a new article published on my Across the Universe blog for The Guardian:


"Jupiter’s icy moon Europa may harbour extraterrestrial life. Nasa has announced a mission to go, but Esa will get there first.


Europa is a tantalising place orbiting the giant planet of Jupiter. Extraordinary images from the twin Voyager spacecraft in 1979 showed that Europa’s surface was cracked in places, with what looked like ice floes in others.

This sparked the possibility that beneath that icy crust could be an ocean. Magnetic field data and further investigation by the Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s seemed to confirm this. And where there is water on Earth, there is life. Could the same be true at Europa? ..."


You can read the full story here.

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Esa favours moon not Mars for next crewed mission

20 January, 2015

I have a new article published on my Across the Universe blog for The Guardian.


"A new video from the European Space Agency talks about an international effort to return humans to the moon as a stepping stone for future crewed missions.


The European Space Agency has outlined its vision for what lunar exploration could be in the future in a new video released onto the internet today. It comes in the wake of a decision to look into collaborating with the Russians over sending a lander to the Moon’s south pole.

The video is general and contains no reference to any specific future missions, but it is interesting because it seems to suggest that Esa would see a return to the moon’s surface as a precursor to going elsewhere. ..."


You can read the full article and see the video here.

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Lost Beagle 2 spacecraft found intact on surface of Mars after 11 years

16 January, 2015

I have a new piece published by the Guardian:


"British Beagle 2 probe had not been seen or heard from since December 2003 and had been presumed destroyed.


So near and yet so far. New images show that the UK’s Beagle 2 successfully landed on the surface of Mars in 2003 but failed to fully deploy its solar panels. Without these, it could not communicate with Earth and scientists lost contact.

The discovery images come from the HiRISE camera on Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They show a bright shape that looks like the lander with some of its solar panels deployed. ..."


You can read the full story here.

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Kepler 438b isn’t Earth’s twin – there are more habitable planets out there

07 January, 2015

I have a new article published by The Guardian.


"The planet announced on Tuesday may be the most Earth-like to date, but there are better candidates for alien life waiting to be discovered.


The Kepler space telescope is the most successful planet-finding instrument ever built. On Tuesday, it chalked up its 1,000th confirmed planet discovery and one of those, Kepler 438b, was named the most Earth-like planet yet found.

It was crowned because it is only 12% larger than our world and orbits a star that gives it 40% more illumination, but it will not hold the title for long – and sooner or later Earth’s twin will be discovered. ..."


You can read the full article here.

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Second space race under way

05 January, 2015

I have a new article posted by The Guardian:


It is a piece of analysis posted under David Smith's article Africans urged to back continent’s first moon mission.


"Africa’s new crowd-sourced space initiative, Africa2Moon, underlines that a second space race is under way. This new wave of space exploration is less overtly ambitious than the US-Russian race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s but it is arguably even more important in the long run.

In recent years China, India and Japan have become ever more sophisticated in their space abilities. China has developed a successful manned programme, India has delivered a scientific satellite to Mars on its first attempt, and Japan has turned fiction into fact by testing a long-dreamt-of propulsion system called a solar sail. ..."


You can read both articles here.

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