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Jonathan Amos, Science correspondent

Jonathan Amos Science correspondent

Come here for my take on UK and European space as well as the latest on major science stories

Philae comet lander: Sleep well little probe

An emotional Andrea Accomazzo
Andrea Accomazzo would like to end the Rosetta satellite's mission by also landing it on the comet

European Space Agency controllers will not give up on Philae.

They will continue to listen for the little probe in the days ahead, hopeful that it will somehow become active again.

On each pass overhead, the Rosetta satellite will try to detect and lock on to any sort of blip being transmitted from below.

The mission has faced up to the odds before, and won. It bounced and probably scraped across the surface during its historic touchdown on Wednesday.

Philae survived all that. People will now want to believe it can hunker down in the darkness and ride out its present predicament.

Read full article Philae comet lander: Sleep well little probe

History beckons for Rosetta comet mission

Artist's impression of Rosetta and Philae
A first for space exploration: No probe has previously made a soft touchdown on a comet

All is on course for Wednesday's ambitious attempt to put a probe on the surface of a comet.

Europe's Rosetta spacecraft is currently making a long arc around 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Read full article History beckons for Rosetta comet mission

Virgin Galactic descent system activated early, investigators say

SS2
SpaceShipTwo with the tailbooms in the feathered position - from an earlier test outing

Investigators probing the crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo craft have released the first hard facts about what happened during its ill-fated flight.

Onboard video and other data now indicate that a critical mechanism that ordinarily would only be used during the descent from sub-orbital space was activated at the beginning of the vehicle's journey skywards, on ascent.

Read full article Virgin Galactic descent system activated early, investigators say

Will Virgin SpaceShipTwo crash set back space tourism?

File photo: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo under rocket power, over Mojave, California, 29 April 2013
Engineers had decided to use a plastic-based solid fuel in the rocket engine

The significance of Friday's flight had been signalled for some weeks.

Virgin Galactic executives had let it be known that they were about to initiate a series of test outings that they hoped would finally lead them into commercial service after years of delay.

Read full article Will Virgin SpaceShipTwo crash set back space tourism?

Egyptian Philae obelisk revealed anew

Oxford researchers
The obelisk has not been properly studied since it was erected on the Kingston Lacy estate

Fresh information is being obtained on the Philae obelisk, the stone monument that played such a key role in helping to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Today, the pink granite shaft stands on the UK National Trust's Kingston Lacy estate in Dorset, where it was brought from the Nile in the 1820s.

Read full article Egyptian Philae obelisk revealed anew

Rosetta comet: More black swan than yellow duck

NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute (Enceladus); ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team and Gordan Ugarkovich (Earth); Robert Vanderbei (Moon); ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM (67P)
Enceladus, Earth, the Moon, and 67P scaled according to their global albedo number

One of the coolest things about comets is their blackness.

Think of a lump of coal or the briquettes you put on the BBQ - that's what comets would look like if you could stand on their surface. And 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, currently being observed at close quarters by the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, is no different.

Read full article Rosetta comet: More black swan than yellow duck

Virgin Galactic: Space could finally be getting closer

Powered flight
This is the year that Virgin Galactic should go sub-orbital - it hopes

"Soon" is the watchword. Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says his passenger rocket plane should get into sub-orbital space within the next few months. Finally.

It's been a long road for the project, but you get the sense now that the light really could be starting to grow at the end of the tunnel.

Read full article Virgin Galactic: Space could finally be getting closer

Rosetta: Date fixed for historic comet landing attempt

Comet 67P
Comet 67P has a very irregular shape. Landing site "J" is just out of view to the right

The date has been fixed for Europe's daring attempt to land on a comet: Wednesday 12 November.

It will see the Rosetta satellite, which is currently orbiting the huge "ice mountain" known as 67P, drop a small robot from a height of 20km.

Read full article Rosetta: Date fixed for historic comet landing attempt

Why India's Mars mission is so cheap - and thrilling

MOM
Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) is one of the cheapest interplanetary missions ever undertaken

India's space programme has succeeded at the first attempt where others have failed - by sending an operational mission to Mars.

The Mangalyaan satellite was confirmed to be in orbit shortly after 0800, Indian time. It is, without doubt, a considerable achievement.

Read full article Why India's Mars mission is so cheap - and thrilling

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About Jonathan

Jonathan has been a science specialist with the BBC since 1994.

He was part of the team that set up the BBC News website in 1997.

His online science reporting has won major awards in Britain.

Jonathan is perhaps best known for his European space coverage.

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