There’s growing evidence that not just our Earth but also the solar system we know and love is actually a rarity, as such things go. Many stars, we now learn, have planetary systems. But very few are like ours. That’s a change from even the mid-twentieth century, when we considered our solar system to be … More Our solar system may be unique – let’s look after it
The arrival of OSIRIS-Rex around asteroid Bennu at the end of 2018 is all sorts of exciting. Well, apart from the rather lame acronym the probe’s been saddled with. But other than that, it’s got plenty of promise. Bennu was discovered in 1999 and isn’t very large – just 300 metres across. Its interest comes … More All sorts of exciting with OSIRIS-Rex
Eighteen months on, the Juno mission to probe the otherwise little-known poles of Jupiter is producing incredible dividends. Check this out. This is just so cool on so many levels. One of the things that NASA and JPL have done is to publish the raw Juno-Cam images sent back by the probe, for everyday people … More By Jove, Jupiter’s impressive!
On 1 January 2019 the New Horizons probe – the one that whipped past Pluto in 2015 – will encounter another outer solar-system body: 2014 MU69. Informally it’s become known as Ultima Thule. The neat part is that this body wasn’t even known when New Horizons was launched in January 2006. Back then, the probe … More New Horizons and Ultima Thule – the bonus mission
One of the ways we justify going to Mars is that Earth is pretty much on the road to ruin just now, courtesy of human endeavour. We need a new planet. The only problem is that human nature doesn’t change, so we’d probably end up wrecking Mars too, likely while fighting viciously over how to … More Humanity – the scourge of the galaxy
It is 49 years, this weekend, since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon. And it was an incredible achievement – not just for the United States, but for humanity as a whole. For the first time in the history of the world, we had left it – and stepped on another celestial … More Thoughts on the future of humanity, 49 years on from Apollo 11
There’s been a lot of speculation of late about a putative ‘Planet Nine’. No, Pluto hasn’t been restored to proper place – this one is a new idea, proposed in 2014 by Chad Trujillo and Scott S. Sheppard on the basis of the orbits of the trans-Neptunian objects Sedna and 2012VP (which hasn’t been given … More Planet Nine from Outer Space