From Mars to the multiverse: life, space and the cosmos with Martin Rees

Astronomer Royal and former President of the Royal Society Lord Martin Rees presents the 2016 Peter Lindsay Memorial Lecture. Unmanned spacecraft have visited the other planets of our Solar System (and some of their moons), beaming back pictures of varied and distinctive worlds – but none propitious for life. But prospects are far more interesting […]

News Round-Up: New Moon, Solar Windows, ‘Green’ Algae, Namibian Water

Pluto’s fifth moon discovered Image: Hubblesite A new moon has been found orbiting Pluto, bringing the number of satellites known around the former planet to five. P5 – the moon’s temporary designation – is between 10 to 25 km across (less than the diameter of London’s North Circular Road), and was discovered by scientists at […]

Interview With an Astronaut

The docked Apollo 9 command and service modules and lunar module conduct the first docking maneuvers in space. This photo of command module pilot David Scott in the command module’s open hatch was taken by lunar module pilot Russell L. Schweickart on the fourth day of the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. Image: NASA — INTERVIEW […]

5 Space Breakthroughs of 2011

With the New Year comes the inevitable question of resolutions – how will you better yourself in 2012? The familiar answers of getting fit, losing weight, saving money and the like are a bit jaded, although surprisingly resolutions have been proven to make a huge difference to how we accomplish our desired goals. With this […]

Science Behind the Photo #34

Moon Bouncing Taken in 2008, this pair of telecommunications masts in downtown Atlanta, USA carry a mix of phone, TV and radio relay dishes. Telecommunication towers have been around since the early 1900s. It was Nikola Tesla, in the 1890s, who first proposed that radio waves might be used for the communication of information. The […]

Science Behind the Photo #33

This detailed photograph of our Moon was taken at the University of London Observatory (ULO), on the amazingly beautiful and intricate Fry telescope. Made by famous telescope manufacturer Thomas Cook in 1862, it was moved to ULO in 1930. It is used often to instruct astronomy students and is mainly used to observe planets, solar […]

Moon birth theory holds no water

Four and half billion years ago, a meteorite the size of Mars slammed into Earth, melting the entire surface of our planet and throwing billions of tonnes of rock into space.  In time, the ejected rubble – baked dry by the explosion’s searing heat – condensed into a parched, lifeless satellite, the Moon.  This is […]

Manned Shuttles – A Waste of Space?

On Friday the shuttle Atlantis will lift off on its final voyage, when it returns it will mean the end of NASA’s iconic space shuttle programme. The shuttle’s retirement also signals the beginning of an uncertain time for human space missions. Funding cuts and plan cancellations mean that there is currently no replacement for NASA’s manned […]

Meteorite strikes made moon’s air

Why does Saturn’s largest moon have a nitrogen atmosphere like Earth?  It’s a question that has stumped astronomers since the Voyager spacecraft went to Titan in 1981.  However, laser gun-toting scientists from Japan think a catastrophic volley of meteorites might hold the answer. Titan’s air is so thick and its gravity is so low that if […]