Solar Sails

Solar sails are the only method of spacecraft propulsion in which no fuel is needed. Until recently spacecraft powered by solar sails were the stuff of science fiction. However,  following the success of the Japanese spacecraft IKAROS which flew close to Venus in 2010, and in 2019 the crowd-funded Light Sail 2 spacecraft it is… Continue reading Solar Sails

Chinese Moon samples

Like many of my readers I was pleased to see that the Chang’e 5 spacecraft returned to Earth on 16 December 2020 with around 2 kg of lunar rocks. This great achievement was the first lunar sample return mission for China and is indeed the first time any rocks have been brought from the Moon… Continue reading Chinese Moon samples

Life on Venus?

Many of you will have seen the story widely reported in the media of the discovery of the gas phosphine in the clouds of Venus - if not, you can find the story here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-54133538. On Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria and it has led to the interesting speculation as to whether there could be… Continue reading Life on Venus?

Surveying the Cosmos – Part II

In a previous post  I talked about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a large telescope being built in Chile which will spend 90% of its time surveying most of the sky a total of  1000 times over a 10 year period (in the remaining 10% it will revisit areas of specific interest).  In this… Continue reading Surveying the Cosmos – Part II

11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids

The night of  11/12  August will be the peak of the Perseids, one of the most famous prolific meteor showers. Meteors (also known as shooting stars) are bright streaks of light caused by small lumps of rock or metal called meteoroids hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a very high speed (in the case of the Perseids… Continue reading 11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids