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Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, off you go: Snout of UK space forcibly removed from EU satellite trough

From the department of "you only just realised this?" come reports that the UK government has been somewhat taken aback that the EU plans to exclude Britain from the Galileo satellite programme due to Brexit. Galileo is a European satellite constellation which, when complete in 2020, will be an alternative to the US Global …
Richard Speed, 26 Mar 2018
Space: 1999's nuclear explosion on the Moon

India: Yeah, we would like to 3D-print igloos on the Moon

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to build igloos on the Moon with a view to creating an Antarctica-like outpost. Dr Jitendra Singh of the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space gave the response to a question (PDF) asked in the Indian Parliament by Shri Suman Balka last week, a member of …
Richard Speed, 26 Mar 2018

NASA fungus problem puts theory of 'Martian mushrooms' on toast

Festering fungus has become a problem way down in the bowels of NASA, and could lead to false identification of extraterrestrial material. Research (PDF) presented at the 49th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference revealed that, in one clean room at least, NASA has a bit of an issue with earthly fungi. Scientists at the NASA …
Richard Speed, 26 Mar 2018
after-party mess

Good news: The only thing standing between NASA and $20bn is...

Updated US Congress has approved a $1.3tr budget [PDF] that would see, among other science boosts, NASA's funding surpass $20bn. That $20.7bn check is $1.6bn more than expected. The spending bill will avoid a government shutdown and provide funding through September 30, provided President Donald Trump signs it off. Earlier today, he …
Richard Speed, 23 Mar 2018
Falcon 9 lifts the ORBCOMM satellites. Pic: SpaceX

SpaceX blasted massive plasma hole in Earth's ionosphere

A SpaceX rocket ripped a humongous hole in Earth’s ionosphere during a launch in California last year and may have impaired GPS satellites. The Falcon 9 rocket was blasted from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 24 August last year. It was carrying the Formosat-5, an Earth observation satellite, built by the Taiwan’s National Space …
Katyanna Quach, 23 Mar 2018
Tiangong-1 illustration from CMSE

Tiangong-1 re-entry window shrinks: Duck from March 30 to April 3

Video Boffins have refined their estimates of when Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will return to Earth, with the big bird's impact now predicted to happen between March 30 and April 3. With the orbit dipping below 225 km, the Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques (FHR) has also been able to capture …

Prof Stephen Hawking's ashes will be interred alongside Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin

The ashes of British physics ace Professor Stephen Hawking will be placed in Westminster Abbey after a special service of thanksgiving for his life. Hawking died at the age of 76 last week after a long struggle with motor neuron disease and was cremated. His ashes will be placed in the abbey, in London, England, between the …
Iain Thomson, 22 Mar 2018
SoFi Swimming (pic: Robert R Katzschmann)

MIT boffins build rubber robot, invade privacy of unsuspecting sealife

Researchers at MIT have developed a robotic fish that should allow scientists to spy on intimate fishy moments normally unseen by human eyes. Fish, it has to be said, aren’t keen on humans and tend to hide when divers blunder too close with bulky underwater camera gear. To keep things discreet, scientists have developed a …
Richard Speed, 22 Mar 2018
NASA's SLS on the mobile launcher

Leaning tower of NASA receives last big arm

NASA's monster rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), took another tentative step towards lift-off yesterday as engineers fitted the last big umbilical arm to its launch tower. The arm was attached at the 240 feet (73m) level and will provide propellant, pneumatics and electrical connections to the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion …
Richard Speed, 22 Mar 2018
Desk beer - pint at a keyboard. Photo by shutterstock

Hip hop-eration: Hopless Franken-beer will bring you hoppiness

In news to delight eco-friendly hipsters the world over, boffins at the University of California, Berkeley, have come up with a way of creating hoppy craft beer without recourse to, er, hops. Hops, while key to imparting flavour and aroma, are a bit of an environmental disaster, with 100 billion litres of water required to …
Richard Speed, 22 Mar 2018

Oh bucket! Unpack the suitcases. TRAPPIST-1 planets too wet to support life

New research published in Nature Astronomy has poured, er, cold water on hopes that it may be possible to detect life on Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system. The planets might be just too wet. There was considerable excitement a year ago, when NASA's veteran Spitzer Space Telescope spotted seven Earth-sized planets …
Richard Speed, 21 Mar 2018

Seen from spaaaaace: Boffins check world's oceans for plastic

European Space Agency (ESA) scientists plan to use satellite shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensing to detect plastic litter concentrations in the oceans. Because tiny fragments of plastic are impossible to identify by current orbital imaging technology, detecting the spectral signature of plastic represents a promising alternative …
Richard Speed, 21 Mar 2018
Bennerley viaduct from drone photo Sustrans

Fancy a viaduct? We have a wrought Victorian iron marvel to sell you

Geek's Guide to Britain The pell-mell expansion of Britain's railways in the 19th century has bequeathed some impressive feats of engineering. Great stone viaducts like those at Calstock in Cornwall and Harringworth near Melton Mowbray get the glory, but for my money it's the iron bridges that are the real marvels. Many centuries earlier the Romans …
Alun Taylor, 21 Mar 2018

ESA's Ariel mission will boldly spot exoplanets not seen before

The European Space Agency is launching a mission to find out how planets form and how life emerges in space, it announced on Tuesday. Ariel, also known as the Atmospheric Remote-sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-survey mission, will narrow down on the search for exoplanets and is expected to launch in 2028. Other spacecraft …
Katyanna Quach, 21 Mar 2018
Lion does a facepalm in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in kenya

Horn star Sudan, last male northern white rhino, dies aged 45

Sudan, aka "The Most Eligible Bachelor in the World” as per hook-up app Tinder, the last male northern white rhino, shuffled off this mortal coil yesterday, aged 45. The sombre news was announced by the snub-nosed giant's home, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, in Laikipia County, in the foothills of Mount Kenya, in a tweet earlier …
Richard Speed, 20 Mar 2018
Big Bang

No, Stephen Hawking's last paper didn't prove the existence of a multiverse

Sorry: Stephen Hawking's last paper doesn't favour the so-called “multiverse”, but there's some cool stuff in it if you ignore the headlines. The late professor Hawking and colleague Belgian theoretical physicist Thomas Hertog first published this paper at arXiv in July last year, and posted an updated version on 4 March, 10 …

Space, the final blunt-tier: Binary system ejected huge 'spliff' asteroid, boffins reckon

Pic 'Oumuamua, the mysterious and oddly shaped interstellar asteroid spotted by astronomers, was probably ejected from a binary star system. The asteroid made headlines back in October last year for resembling a gigantic joint, or cigar, or a turd. The object is so different to other space rocks we've seen before, and appeared …
Katyanna Quach, 20 Mar 2018

Geoboffins believe gigantic volcanoes kickstarted Mars' oceans

A team of geophysicists have developed a new theory explaining how eruptions from some of the biggest volcanoes in the Solar System could have led to oceans on Mars. Tharsis, a region in equatorial Mars stretching about 5,000 kilometers across, is home to some of the biggest volcanoes on the planet. The largest one, Olympus …
Katyanna Quach, 19 Mar 2018
China will see you on the dark side of the moon

China to offer recoverable satellites-as-a-service

China’s told the world it plans to get into the recoverable satellite business. The nation’s launched and recovered satellites since the 1960s. Early missions may have been surveillance efforts that returned films to Earth to provide photographic reconnaissance. More recent missions have allowed experiments to be conducted in …
Simon Sharwood, 19 Mar 2018
Wide angle image makes the moon look much bigger than the earth

Neural networks whip fleshbag butt at identifying craters

A neural network can wipe the floor with fleshy researchers at that most tedious of cosmic tasks – spotting craters. Eyeballing craters is usually done manually, which tends to result in only the largest impacts being spotted, or via a crater detection algorithm (CDA), which works well on data it has been trained on but gets a …
Richard Speed, 16 Mar 2018

Brexit in spaaaace! At T-1 year and counting: UK politicos ponder impact

Countries are pouncing on space work originally destined for the UK like a “feeding frenzy of hyenas” according to a selection of representatives from the UK industry and education sectors. The British government’s EU Internal Market Sub-Committee took evidence yesterday on the implications of Britain's exit from the European …
Richard Speed, 16 Mar 2018

Boffins find sign of water existing deep into Earth's mantle by looking at diamonds

Water covers most of the Earth’s surface and flows deep beneath it as well. But how deep it travels is unknown. A team of scientists have found evidence that the liquid may exist at depths 400 miles below the crust, and maybe even penetrating within the Earth’s lower mantle. A paper published in Science describes the discovery …
Katyanna Quach, 16 Mar 2018
Solar storm - Shutterstock

You always wanted to be an astronaut, right? Careful: Space is getting more and more deadly

Space is getting deadlier. The amount of radiation has increased from previous solar cycles, according to new measurements made by a team of researchers. Astronauts venturing into space now face higher doses of radiation from the onslaught of highly energetic particles in cosmic rays compared to previous crews. The increasing …
Katyanna Quach, 15 Mar 2018
Juling Crater on Ceres (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

Veteran NASA probe Dawn: Winter is coming on Ceres (sort of)

There is icy activity on the surface of dwarf planet Ceres, according to researchers studying observations from NASA’s probe, Dawn. In news that will intrigue scientists and leave fans of science fiction series The Expanse* positively giddy with excitement, there is a sort-of weather system on Ceres resulting in ongoing …
Richard Speed, 15 Mar 2018
Green space alien with sombrero and drink on a sun lounger

Fermi famously asked: 'Where is everybody?' Probably dead, says renewed Drake equation

If we ever detect signals from extraterrestrial civilisations, they are likely already dead, a somewhat downbeat update to the venerable Drake equation suggests. The original equation was devised in 1961 by astrophysicist Dr Frank Drake ahead of a meeting at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia …
Richard Speed, 15 Mar 2018

Kepler krunch koming: Super space 'scope's fuel tank almost empty

NASA has announced the Kepler Space Telescope has almost exhausted its fuel supply. News of the observatory's decline is expected: it was launched in 2009 and expected to last three-and-a-half years. It's still working today, even though the second of two “reaction wheels” used to aim the telescope broke in 2013. In its K2 …
MIT organ on a chip, Image: Felice Frankel

Boffins build 'body-on-a-chip' for drugs tests

Boffins from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, Northeastern University, and several bio-oriented companies have developed a chip that can be loaded with cells from up to 10 organs for testing how drugs affect the human body. The microfluidic platform – which the researchers refer to as a "physiome-on-a-chip" and …
Thomas Claburn, 14 Mar 2018
Cow photo via Shutterstock

Poop to save planet as boffins devise bullsh*t way of extracting gas

Despite emissions from intensive animal husbandry often being fingered as a cause of climate change, researchers have suggested a new way that manure could be a source of renewable power. A team at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, is studying ways of extracting natural gas from bovine and porcine excretions. …
Richard Speed, 14 Mar 2018
Stephen Hawking, weightless and happy

Stephen Hawking dies, aged 76

Physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76. Hawking’s children Lucy, Robert and Tim issued a statement on Wednesday, March 14th, in which they said “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today.” “He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Mar 2018

Doctor finds physical changes to astronaut's eyes after ISS stint

An ophthalmologist studying astronauts in the International Space Station has found long-term structural changes in their eyes. Nimesh Patel, an assistant professor at the University of Houston, examined data taken from the optic nerve head, the circular area at the back of the eyeballs where the optic nerve is connected to …
Katyanna Quach, 13 Mar 2018
rage meme

Stanford brainiacs say they can predict Reddit raids

A group from Stanford University says conflicts on Reddit forums follow a reliable enough pattern to be predicted before they happen. A study [PDF] based on observations from 36,000 subreddit communities has found that online dust-ups can be predicted, and the people most likely to cause them can be identified. "We discovered …
Shaun Nichols, 13 Mar 2018

Russian boffins blow up teeny asteroids with tiny laser... to work out how to nuke the real thing

The next time a giant asteroid threatens the Earth, Russia may just know how many megatons of explosives are needed to blow the thing to smithereens. Boffins from the Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have been busy modelling the impact of a nuclear explosion on …
Richard Speed, 13 Mar 2018
SpaceX explosion

NASA on SpaceX's 2015 big boom: Bargain bin steel liberated your pressure vessel

NASA has fingered design failings by SpaceX in a much-delayed report (PDF) on the 2015 explosion of a Falcon 9 on its way to the ISS. The 28 June 2015 launch followed six successful flights to the orbiting outpost (two on the original Falcon 9 v1.0 and four on the v1.1 incarnation). Unlucky number seven began normally enough …
Richard Speed, 13 Mar 2018

16 exoplanets found huddled around 12 lightweight stars

A team of astronomers have spotted 16 exoplanets, including a ‘super-Earth’ that might hold liquid water, hovering around 12 low mass stars hundreds of light years away from the Solar System. One of the most luminous red dwarf stars, codenamed K2-155, in the dozen is of particular interest. Located about 200 light years away, …
Katyanna Quach, 12 Mar 2018

Are you Falcon sure, Elon? Musk vows Big Rocket will go up 2019

SpaceX and Tesla chief Elon Musk assured the audience at Austin, Texas media 'n' tech megafest South by Southwest last night that his big rocket would fly next year. Possibly referring to the multi-year delay in the flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy and pretty much every other rocket launched by the upstart, or maybe Tesla's …
Richard Speed, 12 Mar 2018

Europe is living in the past (by nearly six minutes) thanks to Serbia and Kosovo

Electric timekeepers in Europe have been losing minutes due to power frequency deviations arising from a dispute between Serbia and Kosovo. The snappily titled European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) spotted a deviation in power from the control area called Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro (SMM …
Richard Speed, 09 Mar 2018

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