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I have spent a very pleasant few days wallowing in the 25th anniversary of ESA’s Comet Halley mission, Giotto. This small spacecraft stunned the world in 1986 when it returned the first images of a comet’s nucleus, the icy heart responsible for those magnificent tails that periodically stretch across the sky.

 

I remember watching the live TV coverage by Patrick Moore on the BBC during 1986, trying to make sense of the garish colour-coded images that came through live. Then, I held my breath as the signal was lost, the result of an inevitable collision with a 1-gram dust grain travelling at 68 kilometres per second.

 

Click on the ‘read more’ link below the tags if you cannot already see the whole article.

There’s only a few weeks to go now before my first novel, The Sky’s Dark Labyrinth, is released in the UK.  It tells the dramatic true story of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei as they struggle to understand the Universe in the face of growing religious intolerance.  It is an exciting, fast-paced story that paints these men in realistic colours.


To read more about the book, and the trilogy it begins, click here to download a four page colour brochure.

I have a new article published over at ESA:

 

“ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered a population of dust-enshrouded galaxies that do not need as much dark matter as previously thought to collect gas and burst into star formation. ... “

 

Read the full article here.

I have a new article published over at ESA:

 

“ESA’s Mars Express has returned new views of pedestal craters in the Red Planet’s eastern Arabia Terra.

 

Craters are perhaps the quintessential planetary geological feature. So much so that early planetary geologists expended a lot of effort to understand them. You could say they put craters on a pedestal. This latest image of Mars shows how the Red Planet does it in reality. ...”

 

Read the full article here.

I have a new article published over at ESA:

 

“ESA’s Cluster satellites have flown through a natural particle accelerator just above Earth’s atmosphere. The data they collected are unlocking how most of the dramatic displays of the northern and southern lights are generated. ...”

 

Read the full article here.

I have a new article published over at ESA:

 

“Key components of the ESA-led Mercury mapper BepiColombo have been tested in a specially upgraded European space simulator. ESA’s Large Space Simulator is now the most powerful in the world and the only facility capable of reproducing Mercury’s hellish environment for a full-scale spacecraft. ...”

 

Read the full article here.

I’ve teamed up with BBC Focus magazine and Quercus Books to answer your biggest questions about the Universe.

 

The idea began with my book The Big Questions: The Universe published last summer by Quercus Books. It has been staggering how many questions you all have!  I’ve given lectures across the country and run a series of #askdrstu Twitter chats - and still the questions keep coming.

I have a new story published on the ESA website:

 

“…The first scientific results from ESA’s Planck mission were released at a press briefing today in Paris. The findings focus on the coldest objects in the Universe, from within our Galaxy to the distant reaches of space.

I have a new story published on the ESA website

 

“…Two ESA observatories have combined forces to show the Andromeda Galaxy in a new light. Herschel sees rings of star formation in this, the most detailed image of the Andromeda Galaxy ever taken at infrared wavelengths, and XMM-Newton shows dying stars shining X-rays into space.

I have a new story published on the ESA website:

 

“…Scientists from ESA and several European astronomy institutes will present the first data and results from ESA’s Planck mission. The Early Release Compact Source Catalogue contains thousands of sources detected by Planck from radio to far-infrared wavelengths, ranging from dense, cold clouds embedded in nearby star-forming regions to distant, supermassive clusters of galaxies.



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