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Science Alert: Experts Respond

Earth-like planet around the Sun’s closest neighbour – Expert reaction

Sarah-Jane O'Connor posted in on August 25th, 2016.

UPDATED: A small rocky planet has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri, the Sun’s closest stellar neighbour, and it may sustain an atmosphere and liquid water that could support life. The discovery of the planet, which is named Proxima b, has a mass about 1.3 times that of the Earth and is just over four light years away, is […]

Juno spacecraft reaches Jupiter – In the news

John Kerr posted in on July 5th, 2016.

After five years travelling across the solar system, the NASA spacecraft Juno has begun its final descent into orbit around Jupiter to collect data. From a unique polar orbit, Juno will repeatedly dive between the planet and its intense belts of charged particle radiation, coming only about 5,000 kilometers from the cloud tops at closest […]

Artificial light drowning out the stars – In the news

John Kerr posted in on June 14th, 2016.

The “New World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness” published Science Advances this week reveals that the Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity. Drawing on data collected from citizen scientists and satellites, researchers from Italy, Germany, the USA, and Israel have created what they describe as “a critical documentation of the […]

New Windows on the Universe – Prof David Wiltshire

John Kerr posted in on February 12th, 2016.

As researchers with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announce they have spotted gravitational waves – ripples in space itself set off by violent astrophysical events – University of Canterbury Professor of Physics Dr David Wiltshire discusses what it means. The announcement that gravitational waves have been directly captured for the first time ever, from […]

Liquid water on Mars – Expert reaction

John Kerr posted in on September 29th, 2015.

Salty streaks identified by an orbiting spacecraft could be the first solid evidence of liquid water – a key ingredient for life as we know it – on the Red Planet. Evidence of salty water flows on Mars have been identified by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The findings were published this morning in the journal […]

New project on the hunt for intelligent life

John Kerr posted in on July 22nd, 2015.

The search for extra-terrestrial life has been re-invigorated by a new initiative launched by British cosmologist Stephen Hawking and funded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Yuri Milner. The newly announced Breakthrough Initiative claims to be the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. Radio telescopes in the US and Australia […]

Pluto photos captivate the public

John Kerr posted in on July 16th, 2015.

From mountains to moons, new photos from Pluto have been splashed across mainstream media. Released this week, the images were collected by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft as it drifted past the dwarf planet on the edges of our solar system. “Pluto New Horizons is a true mission of exploration showing us why basic scientific research […]

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Pluto steals the limelight in stellar block-out

John Kerr posted in on June 30th, 2015.

Stargazers this morning caught a glimpse of a rare astronomical event as ‘dwarf planet’ Pluto passed in front of a distant star. Known as a ‘stellar occultation‘, the passing of Pluto in front of the star will allow astronomers to learn more about the dwarf planet, including clues about the make-up of Pluto’s atmosphere. Data […]

Aurora Australis lights up the skies

Laura Goodall posted in on March 19th, 2015.

A magnificent light display – known as the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis – was visible even as far north as Australia on Tuesday night, with the best vantage being in the lower half of the South Island. The curtains and swirls of red, pink and green light are only seen in a few countries nearest […]

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Updated: Rosetta mission successfully lands probe on comet – experts respond

Laura Goodall posted in on November 13th, 2014.

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission successfully landed the Philae space probe on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, just after 5am (NZT) this morning. The mission’s attempt to land on the giant ball of ice and dust, whizzing past at 66,000 kilometers per hour, has had scientists waiting more than a decade and is […]

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