Watching Tim Peake return to Earth

Tim Peake Image copyright Stephane Corvaja
Image caption A cheerful Tim Peake was transferred by battered helicopter, after landing in a remote area

Witnessing Tim Peake's descent through the clouds towards the arid emptiness of the Kazakh steppe must rank as one of the highlights of any reporter's career.

At first, we had no idea if we were in the right place but then the parachute appeared as a miniature white blob in the sky as our helicopter circled the landing zone - one of a fleet involved in recovering the spacecraft.

Gradually its white and orange stripes became more distinct, and just visible beneath it was the dark shape of the tiny capsule carrying Tim and his two colleagues.

A column of dust in the distance signalled the rush of the ground vehicles speeding over the bumpy terrain in a desperate hurry to provide help as soon as possible.

By a happy coincidence of winds and flight paths, we had an airborne ringside seat as the near-black craft drifted closer and closer towards the ground.

Image caption Helicopters raced to the scene of the landing

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Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

Tim Peake Image copyright PA

Tim Peake grabbed the headlines for blazing a trail as Britain's first government-funded astronaut but it's fair to ask what his six months in space have actually achieved.

Addressing the Brit Awards in a fake tuxedo, running a virtual London Marathon, playing with spheres of water live on television - all these are eye-catching moments but what did his mission add up to?

Read full article Tim Peake: What has Britain's astronaut achieved?

EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Media captionThe BBC's David Shukman examines how farmers feel about the EU referendum

Behind the quiet tapestry of farmland stretching across the UK is a turbulent debate over Britain's membership of the European Union.

At first sight, with billions in subsidies, you might think that every farmer would automatically want to keep the cash flowing and therefore choose to stay in.

Read full article EU referendum: Farmers split on the future

Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom

Hinkley Point - artist's impression Image copyright EDF Energy
Image caption An artist's impression for EDF of how the new power station would look

Six years ago a French government inquiry issued a warning that makes for chilling and highly relevant reading even today.

The report said that the complexity of the kind of nuclear reactor destined for Hinkley Point was itself a "handicap" to its construction and its cost.

Read full article Hinkley Point: Design difficulties loom

Colombia warns on Zika baby risk

Baby with microcephaly
Image caption Colombian health officials have been closely monitoring the situation in Brazil

Health officials in Colombia are warning that as many as 600 babies could be born with microcephaly this year.

With the second highest rate of Zika virus infections after Brazil, Colombia has more than 2,000 pregnant women showing symptoms.

Read full article Colombia warns on Zika baby risk

Fears grow amid Brazil's Zika crisis

Water tank Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Brazilian authorities are targeting mosquito breeding sites

An alarming mixture of confusion and fear is blighting the pregnancies of thousands of women across this teeming tropical city in the northeast of Brazil, and wherever else the Zika virus has infected people.

Every day the emergency clinic at one of Recife's largest hospitals sees queues of nervous women so long that they reach into the car park, and the medical staff, already stretched, are now overwhelmed.

Read full article Fears grow amid Brazil's Zika crisis

Hawking: Humans at risk of lethal 'own goal'

Stephen Hawking Image copyright BBC/RichardAnsett
Image caption Prof Hawking said humans are creating "new ways things can go wrong"

Humanity is at risk from a series of dangers of our own making, according to Prof Stephen Hawking.

Nuclear war, global warming and genetically-engineered viruses are among the scenarios he singles out.

Read full article Hawking: Humans at risk of lethal 'own goal'

Floods unleash unprecedented criticism

Members of the Mountain Rescue teams wade through floodwater in Skeldergate, York, on 28 December 2015 Image copyright PA
Image caption The immediate response to floods may have been better organised - but many victims want to know why they were not better protected in the first place

Every bout of flooding triggers a predictable cycle of despair, anger and scrutiny, but this one has provoked an unprecedented level of criticism and questioning.

As the victims struggle with the misery of damage, mud and ruin, officials say we have entered an era of "unknown extremes" of weather and they want a "complete rethink" of how flooding is handled.

Read full article Floods unleash unprecedented criticism

Peake: What will the astronaut be doing in space?

Tim Peake

After all the drama of the launch, what will Tim Peake actually do during his six long months on the International Space Station?

After seeing the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield performing with his guitar or Scott Kelly of Nasa doing airborne somersaults, many might wonder if the ISS has a serious point.

Read full article Peake: What will the astronaut be doing in space?

COP21: Namibia on frontline of drought battle

Namibia
Image caption Namibia is struggling amid a deepening drought

On a farm so parched that it looks like a desert, Monica Amaraki reaches for an old brass tap only to find that no water flows from it.

Here in Namibia in southern Africa, a drought is intensifying, the soil has been turned into dust and animals are scouring the baked land for something to eat.

Read full article COP21: Namibia on frontline of drought battle