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I have a new piece published on my Guardian blog, Across the Universe:

“Europe's Mars exploration ambition passes a milestone with a successful trial of ESA's ExoMars rover in the Chilean desert

There's always an air of calm about a space mission control room. It's akin to a library but with computers instead of books. The same hushed conversations take place, the same quiet focus. For those seeing one for the first time, it can be a surprise because it is a far cry from the Hollywood control room of frantic activity and slack-jawed gawping.

Give it time, however, and the undercurrent of quiet excitement seeps into you.

I'm standing in the remote control centre of the satellite applications catapult facility in Harwell, UK. The gigantic video wall that spans one end of the room is showing multiple image windows. The one that commands the most attention beams a Martian landscape of desert rocks and distant hills into the room. ...”

You can read the full article here.

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