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Soyuz returns Expedition 55 crew home (pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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SpaceX flings SES-12 satellite into orbit, but would-be lunar tourists should probably unpack

SpaceX finally got the SES-12 comms satellite into orbit this morning while a trio of International Space Station (ISS) crew members returned in a trusty Soyuz capsule after 168 days in the black. Delayed from 1 June due to an unspecified issue with the second stage of the two stage Falcon 9, SpaceX reset the clocks for a …
Richard Speed, 04 Jun 2018
Radiation symbol on keyboard
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Russian battery ambitions see a 10x increase in power from smaller, denser nukes

Russian boffins at the Moscow Institute of Physics (MIPT) have emitted a prototype nuclear battery packing 3,300 milliwatt hours of energy per gram. The paper, published in Diamond and Related Materials, describes a betavoltaic battery powered by the beta decay of the nickel-63 isotope giving 10 times the power of conventional …
Richard Speed, 04 Jun 2018
MiniBooNE photodetectors - Peter Mayers, Princeton U
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Boffins quietly cheering possible discovery of new fundamental particle: Sterile neutrino

It needs more sigmas, but Fermilab boffins in America are carefully speculating that they may have seen evidence of a new fundamental particle: the sterile neutrino. The suggestion follows tests conducted by the MiniBooNE (Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment) instrument, located near Chicago. Its mission is to detect neutrino …
ceres
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Dawn spacecraft to get up-close and personal with dwarf planet Ceres

The Dawn spacecraft orbiting dwarf planet Ceres will soon make its final course change as NASA boffins set it up for a closest-ever flyby yet to get a warts-and-all look. Ceres is the largest body in the Asteroid Belt and orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn's been there since 2015, mapping the surface from hundreds of miles …
Iain Thomson, 01 Jun 2018
Pluto
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The ice must flow: Dunes of frozen gas spotted on alien dwarf

Dunes of methane ice grains have been discovered on Pluto after scientists studied snaps taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. That's according to a paper published in the journal Science today. New Horizons, launched over a decade ago in 2006, has allowed boffins to conduct the most detailed study of the largest dwarf …
Katyanna Quach, 31 May 2018
Falcon 9 on the launchpad (pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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SpaceX to pick up the space pace with yet another Falcon 9 launch

Updated After taking an extra day to look over the second-hand Falcon 9 following its static fire on 25 May, engineers plan to light the blue touch-paper and stand well back on 1 June. The night launch, currently scheduled for some time between 0429 and 0657 (UTC) on 1 June, stands only a 40 per cent chance of getting off the ground …
Richard Speed, 31 May 2018
Fulwell sound mirror photo by Alun Taylor
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Mirror mirror on sea wall, spot those airships, make Kaiser bawl

Geek's Guide to Britain Mention the development of air raid early warning systems in the UK and thoughts will most likely jump to the Chain Home radar network of the 1930s. But a system was put in place twenty years earlier to give advance warning of raids by German Zeppelins. These were giant, cigar-shaped, hydrogen-filled airships that unleashed …
Alun Taylor, 31 May 2018
New MH 370 flaperon drift modelling
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MH370 search ends – probably – without finding missing 777

Further efforts to find MH370, the Malaysian airlines Boeing 777 missing since March 2014, have again failed to find the plane. Oliver Plunkett, the CEO of Ocean Infinity, a company conducting a no-find-no-fee search on behalf of the Malaysian government, on Tuesday said the search will shortly end without having found the …
Simon Sharwood, 31 May 2018
Alan Bean (pic: NASA)
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RIP to two 'naut legends: A moonwalker and a spacewalker

Obit The world lost two astronauts this past weekend – one a moonwalker that you've likely heard of, the other a pioneering spacewalker you might not know about. Bye-bye, Alan Bean Alan Bean, the fourth man on the Moon, passed away on 26 May, aged 86. He is perhaps most famous for being the lunar module pilot (LMP) on the Apollo 12 …
Richard Speed, 30 May 2018
Man crushed to death by rock at Pompeii
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Headless man found in lava’s embrace

Archaeologists have found a headless body in Pompeii and concluded that his skull was removed by a big rock pushed into his path by the pyroclastic flow that presaged the city’s doom. The Parco Archeologico di Pompei’s assessment of the find suggests “that the individual survived the first eruptive phase of the volcano, and …
Simon Sharwood, 30 May 2018
A woman walking in the rain by water
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Meet the real spin doctors: Scientists tell H2O to chill out so they can separate isomers

Boffins have, for the first time, managed to separate water into its two isomeric forms to test how they react to stuff, according to a paper published in Nature Communications on Tuesday. You may or may not know that each water molecule exists in one of two slightly different structures: para-water and ortho-water. Both have …
Katyanna Quach, 30 May 2018
NASA tech inspects MOMA
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Toaster oven-sized boffin box bound for Mars to search for life

A team from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center gathered last week to bid farewell to a mass spectrometer as it began its journey to the red planet via an assembly plant in Italy. The instrument is a key component of a toaster oven-sized lab, called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA), which will detect evidence of …
Richard Speed, 25 May 2018
Autophage Engine
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You've heard that pop will eat itself. Boffins have unveiled a rocket that does the same

Scottish boffins, along with colleagues in Ukraine, have developed a "self-eating" rocket engine that could affordably fling a cubesat into orbit. The solid-fuel rocket does away with heavy tanks, with the propellant itself forming much of the launcher's structure. As the engine burns its way through that structure, the rocket …
Richard Speed, 25 May 2018
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Comet 67P's cute rubber duck shape perfect for causing eruptions

Scientists have found that the jets of ice and dust wafting from comet 67P are down to the way sunlight beams hits its unique rubber ducky shaped surface. In a paper published in Nature, a group of astronomers studied why the sublimation process was concentrated into jets instead of a homogenous cloud of material. Comet 67-P …
Katyanna Quach, 24 May 2018
staff in business suits thrash each other with ring binders
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Ongoing game of Galileo chicken goes up a notch as the UK talks refunds

The Galileo "Yo Momma"-style war of words got angrier today with the UK threatening to recover its investment in the EU's space satellite project if the nation is booted out post-Brexit. In a technical note, UK participation in Galileo (PDF), which is best read out loud in a high-pitched warbly voice, British officials again …
Richard Speed, 24 May 2018
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EmDrive? More like BS drive: Physics-defying space engine flunks out

The "impossible" EmDrive may be just that, though don't count it out just yet. A group of German physicists at TU Dresden has tested two proposed means of propellantless propulsion – the EmDrive and Mach Effect Thrusters – and found the act of testing is what makes these arguably physics-flouting technologies appear to work. …
Thomas Claburn, 23 May 2018
Saturn_rings
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Astroboffins, get in here and explain Saturn's odd-shaped balls

A trio of physicists reckoned they’ve figured out why some of Saturn’s moons are so oddly shaped, with some looking like giant floating ravioli and others imitating stubby baguettes. Saturn is most well known for its complex ring system and it is estimated that at least 62 moons are hiding amongst the structure so far. NASA’s …
Katyanna Quach, 23 May 2018
Falcon 9 on the launchpad (pic: NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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Through many dangers, toils and snares.... SpaceX to send amazing GRACE to spaaaaace

Because ride-sharing is caring, SpaceX will send the next batch of Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit along with a pair of NASA gravity monitoring orbiters, GRACE-FO. The launch, scheduled for 1947 UTC (1247 PT) from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base today, will reuse the outdated Falcon block 4 rocket that flung mystery- …
Richard Speed, 22 May 2018
This was built as an adjuct to Jodrell Bank
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It could be you: National Lottery hands £16m to England's Jodrell Bank

Jodrell Bank is to receive £16.1m in UK lottery and government funding for a gallery dedicated to astronomy. The "First Light at Jodrell Bank" project will seek to promote and celebrate the site's pioneering role in star-gazing. It will receive £12m in lottery funding, a total of £8m in government funding, and is to be built …
Kat Hall, 22 May 2018
Geeks Guide book on coffee table, photo The_Register
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Presto chango, crypto buyo: You're travelling like El Reg's gang of nerds

You were with us when we chucked our backpacks in the boot and drove up the M6 to Jodrell Bank in 2013 and five years on, you're still reading our travel series on UK locations that are covered in scientific or engineering glory. Now we'd like you to join us again, as The Reg takes Geek’s Guide to Britain on its next great …
Gavin Clarke, 22 May 2018
Typhoon Soudelor photographed from the International Space Station
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Astronaut took camera on spacewalk, but forgot SD memory card

An International Space Station astronaut took a GoPro camera for a space walk last week, but forgot to bring any memory. “A question about the GoPro real quick,” asks astronaut Andrew Feustel in the video below. “I’m pushing the button I see a ‘no SD’. Do I need that to record? And if it is recording is there supposed to be a …
Simon Sharwood, 22 May 2018
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Undocumented alien caught stealing orbits in our Solar System

Scientists have discovered the first “interstellar immigrant” living among our Solar System's matter. Unlike Oumuamua, the asteroid that made headlines for appearing to be a gigantic spliff or a potential alien spacecraft, asteroid (514107) 2015 BZ509, affectionately known as Bee-Zed, has been circling the Sun for some 4.5 …
Katyanna Quach, 22 May 2018
hurricane_patricia
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Boffins detect antimatter thundering down from Hurricane Patricia

A team of scientists today reported observing beams of antimatter firing from a ferocious hurricane on Earth for the first time. Hurricane Patricia, the second most powerful tropical cyclone recorded so far, ripped through the west coast of Mexico in October 2015 drumming up winds of up to 215 miles per hour. It was the …
Katyanna Quach, 21 May 2018
Dan Dare
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RAF Air Command to take on UK military space ops

The Royal Air Force (RAF) is to take on command and control of UK military space operations, including a possible UK-based alternative to the EU's Galileo satellite constellation. The Defence Space Strategy (DSS), which remains somewhat light on detail until it is published in full over the summer, will bump numbers working in …
Richard Speed, 21 May 2018
Cygnus CRS-9 (pic: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
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Orbital ATK launches another Cygnus without anything blowing up

Orbital ATK's Cygnus freighter launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, this morning carrying supplies, spares and science to the International Space Station. While SpaceX tends to grab the headlines with its crowd-pleasing habit of landing rockets, Orbital ATK continues to plug away with its more traditional and expendable …
Richard Speed, 21 May 2018
Test image from  image from one of the four cameras aboard the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
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NASA’s new exoplanet-spotter survives sling past the Moon

NASA’s exoplanet-spotting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has successfully manoeuvred around Earth’s moon. TESS is headed for an orbit that’s elliptical and inclined to Earth. The ellipse allows TESS to squirt data back to Earth from its 108,000km perigee, an altitude that keeps it well clear of the cluttered ~30, …
Simon Sharwood, 21 May 2018
Curiosity
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NASA fix for Curiosity rovers's damaged drill: hitting it, repeatedly

NASA's top engineers think they've figured out a way to get the Curiosity rover's drill back to work holing the rock faces of Mars. Back in 2016 the nuclear-powered rover's rock-sampling drill broke down after a motor failed. As 225 million km (140 million miles) is too far to make an on-site visit, the men and women of NASA …
Iain Thomson, 18 May 2018
NGC_6744_LEGUS

Get an eyeful of the stunning galaxies near us in ultraviolet light

Astronomers have published the largest ultra-violet survey of the local universe, showcasing 50 active galaxies in high resolution using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The project nicknamed LEGUS (Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey) captures a whopping 39 million hot blue stars and about 8,000 star clusters within a 60 million …
Katyanna Quach, 18 May 2018
galaxy_impression
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Astroboffins find most distant source of oxygen in the universe

Astrophysicists have detected the most distant signal of oxygen yet, in a galaxy more than 13 billion light years away, when the universe was less than 4 per cent of its current age. A paper published in Nature shows that the galaxy, MACS1149-JD1, was surprisingly mature enough to be forming abundant amounts oxygen at such a …
Katyanna Quach, 17 May 2018
Bloodhound SSC (pic: Flock and Siemens)
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Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car aims to wake up Newquay: Rocket work restart in August

The team behind the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC) announced plans today to take a crack at the 1,228kmph (763mph) land-speed record at the end of 2019. It has been a tricky few months for the plucky Brit outfit. Two major suppliers, including URT Carbon Fibre, have gone into receivership and left the car missing some …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018
Skylab (pic: NASA)
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America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Two NASA anniversaries rolled around this week, but you would be forgiven for missing them. The first was the 45th anniversary of the launch of the United States' only solo Space Station, Skylab, designed to host astronauts for months at a time. The second big day, yesterday, marked 55 years since the space agency launched the …
Richard Speed, 16 May 2018
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Astroboffins spy the most greedy black hole yet gobbling a Sun a day

Astronomers have spotted the greediest supermassive black hole going through the fastest growth spurt some 12 billion years ago. The humongous hole, codenamed QSO SMSS J215728.21-360215.1, is the staggering size of about 20 billion suns, and grows at a rate of 200 million suns over a million years. It has a voracious appetite …
Katyanna Quach, 15 May 2018
Milky Way photo via Shutterstock
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Get over yourselves: Life in the multiverse could be commonplace

A universe containing life like ours is probably more common in the multiverse than previously thought, according to new theoretical studies. The idea of multiple universes existing in parallel has gained traction in the last few decades and boffins are throwing large chunks of computing power at the problem, testing out …
Katyanna Quach, 14 May 2018
europa
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Decades-old data reveals shows Jupiter’s moon sprayed alien juice over Galileo probe

Space scientists have just figured out that an unusual anomaly from over 20 years ago was the equivalent of a space probe being squirted in the face. Back in 1997 the Galileo Jupiter probe skimmed the watery moon of Europa and now it appears it got a faceful from a water plume 1,000km (621 miles) wide. Flying at 6km (3.7 …
Iain Thomson, 14 May 2018
NASA depiction of the helicopter to travel on the Mars 2020 mission
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NASA will send tiny helicopter to Mars

NASA has announced that its Mars 2020 mission will include a small helicopter. The appeal of a ‘copter is obvious: it’ll be faster than a crawling robot, see further and should be less likely to be stuck in sand. While Bernoulli’s Principle holds on Mars, the red planet’s atmosphere is vastly thinner than Earth’s so a copter …
Simon Sharwood, 14 May 2018
spacex
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First SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket lobs comms sat into orbit

After a day's delay, Bangladesh's first satellite was today successfully launched atop the first SpaceX Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. The satellite, named Bangabandhu Satellite-1, lifted off at 1614 EDT (2014 UTC) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. The bird detached from the second rocket stage, and is now maneuvering …
Iain Thomson, 11 May 2018

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