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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
17

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)
22

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
36

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
45

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
70

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
Push to turn off JET photo SA Mathieson

Delayed gratification for Musk's rocket fanciers

The launch of SpaceX’s updated Falcon 9, with Bangladesh’s first satellite perched on top, was halted at the 58 second mark. The infamously secretive rocketry boffins tweeted out a terse explanation blaming a “ground system auto abort” rather than anything to do with the booster itself. The launch had already been delayed …
Richard Speed, 11 May 2018
First Sentinel-3B Image (pic: ESA/EUMETSAT)

ESA's all-seeing space eye captures momentary sunshine over Britain

The newly launched Sentinel-3B satellite has snapped its first shots of home, delighting boffins back on Earth. The latest addition to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Copernicus programme was launched on 25 April from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome and successfully placed in orbit. Less than two weeks later, scientists have got …
Richard Speed, 10 May 2018
Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. If you haven't seen it, it's about a man forced to endure reliving the same day over and over. Pic: Columbia Pictures
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It's Galileo Groundhog Day! You can keep asking the same question, but it won't change the answer

As the imagined strains of Sonny and Cher’s hit "I Got You, Babe"* died down, the UK Parliament’s Exiting the European Union Committee spent a chunk of yesterday morning asking the UK space industry the same old questions. Youtube Video Patrick Norris of UK Space, Colin Paynter of Airbus and Dr Belddyn Bowen of the University …
Richard Speed, 10 May 2018
Scott on the surface of the Moon during Apollo 15. Pic: NASA
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NASA boss insists US returning to the Moon after Peanuts to show for past four decades

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has strangely compared previous attempts to return to the Moon to an old Peanuts cartoon. The new Administrator yesterday told companies keen to cash in provide lunar payload services that while attempts to return to the Moon over the last 40 years or so may have ended in failure, President Donald …
Richard Speed, 09 May 2018
SpaceX Dragon Splashdown (pic: NASA/SpaceX)
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SpaceX Bangabandhu-1 launch held up while Dragon splashes down on time

SpaceX has opted to spend a few more days checking out its new Falcon 9 following a successful test fire of the rocket on 5 May, but its latest cargo ship enjoyed an uneventful return to Earth. The famously taciturn rocketry outfit was expected to launch the Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite for the Bangladesh …
Richard Speed, 08 May 2018
SLAC'S WIMP detector
13

Where to find dark matter? $34m says go look 2km under Canada

By the 2020s, boffins hope, a hockey-puck-shaped silicon and germanium crystal 2,000 metres below Canada will show a brief, tiny vibration, meaning a dark matter particle has collided with it. Dark matter has a big problem: scientists can detect its effects on the macro scale, but have never successfully detected any of the …
exoplanet_WASP-96b

Astroboffins spot the first perfect exoplanet free of clouds

Astronomers have discovered the first exoplanet completely devoid of clouds, according to a paper published on Monday in Nature. WASP-96b described as a “hot Saturn” for its toasty temperature of 1,300 Kelvin (1,027 degrees Celcius or 1,880 degrees Fahrenheit) and a similar mass to Saturn, is located about 980 light years away …
Katyanna Quach, 08 May 2018
abell_39_planetary_nebula
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The Sun will blow up into a huge, glowing bubble of gas during its death

The Sun will shed a large chunk of its mass to turn into a planetary nebula, a gigantic globe of luminous gas, as it nears the end of its life cycle. Low mass stars like the Sun will become red giants and then white dwarves when they die. Now, a paper published in Nature Astronomy predicts that in between those stages, the Sun …
Katyanna Quach, 07 May 2018
NASA depiction of Mars InSight entering the Martian atmosphere. Image: NASA

Put November 26 in your diary: That’s when Mars InSight lands. Hopefully

VID NASA’s successfully launched Mars InSight, the probe it hopes will help us to understand the interior of the Red Planet and therefore a little more about how rocky planets form. Mars InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) was supposed to be on Mars already, but missed its 2016 …
Simon Sharwood, 07 May 2018
Laser
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Pentagon in uproar: 'China's lasers' make US pilots shake in Djibouti

The US military has formally complained to China after blinding lasers were fired at Uncle Sam's aircraft coming in to land at the American airbase in Djibouti. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said two US military pilots suffered minor eye damage from lasers hitting the cockpit of their C-130 transport airplane landing at Camp …
Iain Thomson, 04 May 2018
NASA Mars InSight Lander (pic: NASA/JPL-CALTECH)
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The Rocky Planet Picture Show: NASA Mars InSight ready for launch

NASA's Mars InSight will launch from California’s Vandenberg airbase tomorrow morning, with the aim of discovering how rocky planets form. InSight will lift off at 1105 UTC and is intended to be the first mission to peer beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by measuring its heat output and listening for …
Richard Speed, 04 May 2018
Moon

Lakes on the moon? Boffins think they've found the evidence

A team of physicists have uncovered evidence that the Moon may have had liquid water on its surface at one point. The team of Japanese and German researchers probed 13 different lunar meteorites using micro-Raman spectrometry, electron microscopy, and synchrotron angle-dispersive x-ray diffraction to work out the different …
Katyanna Quach, 04 May 2018
Lightning, photo via Shutterstock
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Shocking. Lightning strike knocks out neuro patient's brain implant

A report published in the Journal of Neurosurgery documented the alarming experience of a patient who got a little too close for comfort to a lightning storm while undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS is used to treat neurological movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and involves inserting electrodes into …
Richard Speed, 03 May 2018
NASA's Kilopower Reactor depicted on the Moon
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NASA demos little nuclear power plant to help find little green men

NASA has announced successful tests of a small fission reactor capable of producing about 10 kilowatts of power, and hopes the technology will prove suitable for use on the Moon or Mars. The space agency’s developed the reactor because crewed missions will need lots more electricity than can be generated by either the Sun or …
Simon Sharwood, 03 May 2018
WASP_107b

Astroboffins score a first by spotting traces of helium on an exoplanet

Astronomers have detected helium floating around in the atmosphere of an exoplanet for the first time, according to a paper published in Nature on Wednesday. The discovery was made after a team of scientists probed WASP-107b with the Hubble Space Telescope. It's an exoplanet located about 200 light-years away from Earth that …
Katyanna Quach, 03 May 2018
Lunar Resource Prospector (pic: NASA)
12

NASA lunar rover trundles to a meeting with Doctor Hacksaw and Mister Axe

NASA has hinted that its Lunar Resource Prospector rover won’t be going to the Moon anytime soon. Not in one piece at any rate. The American space agency's new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, pulled out his axe on his third day in the job, and tweeted out what hinted at confirmation of the rover’s cancellation. We’re …
Richard Speed, 02 May 2018
Boy with a backpack hides his eyes and cries. Pic by Shutterstock
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Blighty: If EU won't let us play at Galileo, we're going home and taking encryption tech with us

Britain has warned it would attempt to stop the EU using its encryption tech on the Galileo project while launching its own satellites. The UK is able to block the EU from ordering any more Galileo satellites while it remains a member of the club. Such a move would, however, only result in a short delay and may actually end up …
Richard Speed, 02 May 2018
Nowlight in Kenya
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Grab your lamp, you've pulled: Brits punt life-saving gravity-powered light

The second generation of a deciwatt gravity-powered lamp designed by the British industrial designers behind the Psion computer keyboard was launched today. Few innovations we cover can claim to save lives, but this just might be one of them. The $5 Gravity Light, designed by London's Therefore Inc, offers the world's poorest …
Andrew Orlowski, 01 May 2018
NASA Galileo Probe (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)
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NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

NASA scientists have made some new discoveries about Jupiter's giant moon Ganymede, thanks to a dedicated team, an elderly VAX machine and 20-year-old data from the long-defunct Galileo probe. Fifteen years after Galileo (no, not that one) ended its days with a plunge into the atmosphere of Jupiter, NASA scientists have …
Richard Speed, 01 May 2018
Six parked concordes photo British Airways
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Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Geek's Guide to Britain For a generation that never heard the sonic boom as Concorde broke the sound barrier overhead, the iconic white arrow-shaped aircraft dubbed "The Rocket" by British Airways is just a story our parents told. Before we travel to the museum in Filton, Gloucestershire, that houses it, let's take a trip back in time. Aérospatiale/ …
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North will remain North for now, say geo-magnetic boffins

Earth's magnetic field flips from time to time, but boffins are now confident it won't happen again any time soon. Research published April 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) says Earth scientists' assessment of our magnetosphere suggest we're more likely to see a …
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Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

Bill Gates reportedly turned down an offer to serve as President Donald Trump's science advisor. The offer was first reported by health sector site Statnews, which interviewed the Microsoft founder and philanthropist about his public-health-related activities. During the discussion, Gates told Statnews he'd discussed …
New Shepard Launch (pic: Blue Origin)
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Mannequin Skywalker takes high ground on Bezos-backed rocket

Jeff Bezos-founded spaceflight firm Blue Origin set a company record yesterday by sending its capsule on a sub-orbital trajectory with an apogee of 351,000 feet (107km) before landing both booster and capsule safely in West Texas. It was the company's eighth flight using the third version of the New Shepard booster – a single- …
Richard Speed, 30 Apr 2018

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