Feeds

A year in spaaaaace: El Reg looks back on 2011

Era of the spaceplane ends, robot exploration continues

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Space is cool

Apart from boldly going where no one has gone before, finding us somewhere to go when Armageddon hits and trying to make contact with whoever, or whatever, is out there, the more immediate benefits of space exploration were also evident throughout the year, as spacecraft, satellites, telescopes and other tech expanded mankind's scientific understanding and gave us cool pictures to look at.

We had more than one glimpse of the scientific wonder of black holes, whether supermassive or garden-variety.

One was beautifully pictured by international boffins by melding together images from telescopes across the southern hemisphere.

Particle jets belching from the supermassive black hole at the centre of Centaurus A. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

Particle jets belching from the supermassive black hole at the centre of Centaurus A. Credit: ESO/WFI (visible); MPIfR/ESO/APEX/A.Weiss et al. (microwave); NASA/CXC/CfA/R.Kraft et al. (X-ray)

While two independent research groups found a cloud of water vapour around this specimen.

Stargazers at the European Southern Observatory spotted a supermassive black hole gobbling up a huge gas cloud and in the process showing that things do go bendy and stretchy around a singularity.

And just this month, space boffins discovered the supermassive black hole – a behemoth with nearly ten billion times the mass of our Sun and an event horizon that would stretch five times further than the orbit of Pluto – enough to swallow the entire solar system.

Also breaking records, NASA's Voyager space probes continued to fly towards deep space, into never-before-seen void beyond the edge of the Sun's influence on our solar system.

Voyager 1 reached the very edge of the heliosheath – the skin of the 'bubble' of our star's power – on 5 December and NASA boffins are saying we won't have long to wait until we see "what the space between stars is really like".

Artist's impression of Voyager 1 and 2 in the heliosheath Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist's impression of Voyager 1 and 2 in the heliosheath Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

As previously mentioned, NASA has a keen interest in asteroids, whether Earth-killing or not, and so kept the world updated throughout the year on the progress of the Dawn probe, dispatched in 2007 to check out the asteroid belt giant Vesta.

The first of many pictures from the probe found its way back to Earth in May, quickly followed by a second snap as it headed into orbit around the second-largest object orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.

Dawn image of Vesta's dark side. Pic: NASA

Dawn image of Vesta's dark side. Credit: NASA

Once up close, Dawn was able to pick up features on the surface of the asteroid, including large ridges running along for miles, which boffins are currently pondering.

Dawn was also able to pick up information about the composition of Vesta, discovering that the asteroid was much more like a planet than the usual kind of rocks floating around out there.

"The distinct compositional variation and layering that we see at Vesta appear to derive from internal melting of the body shortly after formation, which separated Vesta into crust, mantle and core," the deputy principal investigator, Carol Raymond, said.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.