Lisa Pathfinder: Gravity quest set to go into orbit

Lisa Pathfinder Image copyright IABG
Image caption Lisa Pathfinder will launch in November for a mission that is likely to last about a year

Europe is ready to launch its most exquisite satellite mission yet.

Lisa Pathfinder is a fundamental physics experiment that will test the technology needed to detect gravitational waves - what are sometimes referred to as ripples in the curvature of space-time.

Scientists and engineers have declared the demonstrator ready to fly after more than a decade of development.

It will likely go up in November on the European Space Agency's Vega rocket.

The month marks the 100-year anniversary of when Einstein published the field equations that underpinned his Theory of General Relativity.

Read full article Lisa Pathfinder: Gravity quest set to go into orbit

Big year ahead for James Webb telescope

"Up to this point, for as long as we've been working on Webb, you've only ever really seen a cartoon of the telescope. Towards the end of this year, you will actually be able to see the James Webb Space Telescope realised in hardware."

It's been a long time coming but we are now at the business end of building Hubble's successor.

Read full article Big year ahead for James Webb telescope

Pluto flyby: Meet the 'King of the Kuiper Belt'

Sometimes it is hard to comprehend the size of things in astronomy.

Just our Solar System, the little corner of the Milky Way in which we live, is vast.

Read full article Pluto flyby: Meet the 'King of the Kuiper Belt'

Bloodhound supersonic car gets its 'feathers'

Tailfin Image copyright Bloodhound SSC
Image caption It will soon be time for a paint job and the emplacement of tens of thousands of fans' names

The tailfin. It's one of the most iconic features on the Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car (SSC), not least because it'll carry the names of all the project's thousands of fans who've contributed to its funding.

But the fin is also arguably one of the most safety-critical aerodynamic surfaces on the vehicle.

Read full article Bloodhound supersonic car gets its 'feathers'

Solar Impulse awaits 'moment of truth'

Solar Impulse Image copyright Solar impulse

It will be a test of man and machine. The Solar Impulse project is waiting to undertake its greatest challenge yet: flying non-stop from Nanjing in China to Hawaii in the Central Pacific.

For a passenger airliner, the 8,000km could be completed in 10 hours or so. But for this solar-powered, prop-driven, experimental aircraft, it could take 5-6 days and nights of continuous flight.

Read full article Solar Impulse awaits 'moment of truth'

The great 'Mars bake-off' begins

Image caption Public webcams mean you'll be able to follow the assembly of the Mars rover from anywhere in the world

The UK aerospace laboratory in which Europe's ExoMars rover will be assembled is about to undergo a three-month deep-clean.

Just built at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, the facility must be made spotless before any robot parts are brought in.

Read full article The great 'Mars bake-off' begins

Hubble issues 25th birthday image

Westerlund 2 Image copyright NASA/ESA
Image caption The birthday image features a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2

The Hubble Space Telescope has celebrated its silver anniversary with a picture featuring a spectacular vista of young stars blazing across a dense cloud of gas and dust.

The "Westerlund 2" cluster of stars is located about 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

Read full article Hubble issues 25th birthday image

Rosetta comet lander tells magnetic story

Comet 67P Image copyright ESA/Rosetta/navcam
Image caption Philae landed on the smaller lobe of the comet, touching the surface four times before coming to a rest

The comet being trailed through space by Europe's Rosetta probe has no magnetic field of its own.

The finding is significant because it answers one of the major questions of the mission - namely, did magnetic fields play a major role in pulling together the material that makes up icy dirt-balls like 67P?

Read full article Rosetta comet lander tells magnetic story

'Robot chef' aimed at home kitchen

A London-based company has launched a prototype "robo-chef" for the home.

Moley Robotics is demonstrating its concept at this year's Hannover Messe - a big trade fair for industrial technology held annually in Germany.

Read full article 'Robot chef' aimed at home kitchen

Getting ready for the mission to Hell

Airbus cleanroom Image copyright Max Alexander/UKSA
Image caption Airbus has produced a "copy" of SolO to test and validate the design

They must be the two most audacious space missions currently in development.

Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus will venture inside the orbit of Mercury to study the Sun.

Read full article Getting ready for the mission to Hell