Nasa's Curiosity 'hitting full stride' in lead-up to Mount Sharp mission

05 June, 2013

I have a second post this week on my Across the Universe blog for the Guardian :

Nasa's Curiosity rover is approaching the biggest turning point of its mission so far. Soon it will begin the year-long drive towards its primary objective: Mount Sharp

Expect the pace of the Curiosity mission – and presumably the discoveries – to start picking up. Until now, NASA has been going deliberately slowly so that it understands how to do things most efficiently with the rover. Now, it's growing more confident.

"We're hitting full stride," said Mars Science Laboratory project manager Jim Erickson of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California in a news telecon today...

You can read the full article here.

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Space radiation results should spark manned Mars mission debate

03 June, 2013

I have a new post on my Across the Universe blog for the Guardian :

Nasa data shows radiation doses would be so high on a manned Mars mission that we must now debate the ethics of deep space exploration – or wait decades to develop safer technology

It is time for idealism about missions to Mars to end. Going there with current technology would carry a significant risk of harmful radiation exposure.

This was made clear at last Thursday's teleconference of results from the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) onboard Nasa's Curiosity rover.

During the rover's cruise to Mars between December 2011 and July 2012, RAD showed that an astronaut would clock up the same radiation dose in a day that the average American receives in a year. If you exclude medical dosages, it would be 10 times more than the average American.

Taking these numbers at face value, the radiation from a 500-day round-trip to Mars would exceed Nasa's current safety guidelines...

You can read the full article here

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Il sensorio di Dio published in Italy

24 May, 2013

The second volume of The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth is now out in Italy, published by Dedalo.

From their website: “Genio, idee rivoluzionarie e scoperte epocali si scontrano con debolezze umane, rivalità e segreti inconfessabili nell’ instabile e travagliata Inghilterra della Restaurazione. Nell’ avvincente romanzo di un grande autore scientifico, un ritratto accurato e molto umano dei padri della scienza moderna.”

You can read more about it here.

Dedalo published the first volume, ‘L’oscuro labirinto del cielo’ in November 2012. You can read about that here.

They also published my book, Le Grandi Domande: Universo. More details here.

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Silverlock Book Reviews: The Day Without Yesterday

17 May, 2013

My thanks to Lucy Jones for her review of The Day Without Yesterday.

She concludes, ‘Clark’s series serve as a discussion of science and society in a fictionalised form, crossing genre boundaries successfully, and prompting serious thought which is alarmingly relevant to today. Highly recommended reading for anybody with an interest in history and science.’

You can read the full review of The Day Without Yesterday here.

I also discovered that she generously reviewed The Sensorium of God last year, too.

She says, ‘This novel is well worth a read, whether you have read The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth first or not. It doesn’t lack for drive or plot, and yet is much more sophisticated than a great many other books on the market.’

You can read the full review of The Sensorium of God here.

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Nasa's Kepler telescope failure is not the end of searching for another Earth

16 May, 2013

I have a new post on my Across the Universe blog for the Guardian:

“Even if Nasa's Kepler space telescope is coming to the end of its mission, the search for other Earths will continue

The Kepler space telescope is in trouble. On Tuesday, during one of their regular twice-weekly communications slots, Nasa scientists found the telescope in "safe mode".

An investigation has now revealed that a stabilising wheel has broken. This led the telescope to place itself in the protective, low-power mode. Without this wheel, the telescope cannot point precisely at its targets.

Although it's a little early to be writing Kepler's obituary, the signs are not good. ...”

You can read the full article here.

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Radio 4: The Life Scientific

14 May, 2013

Here’s an interesting interview with geologist Sanjeev Gupta, who is now working as a planner on NASA’s Mars Curiosity Mission. Radio 4 called me in to provide a little bit of gentle devil’s advocacy at the end.

You can listen to the programme here.

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