Hunt for Antarctica's 'missing meteorites'

Meteorite Image copyright ANSMET/K.Joy
Image caption When the flowing ice hits a barrier, such as a mountain range, it is forced upwards to reveal the meteorites

The go-ahead has been given for the first British expedition to collect meteorites in Antarctica.

Most of the space rocks now in collections worldwide have been picked up on the continent.

The region's great expanse of ice makes searching for the blackened remains of objects that have fallen from the sky a particularly productive exercise.

But the UK venture will target a strangely underrepresented class of meteorites – those made of iron.

These are the smashed up innards of bodies that almost became planets at the start of the Solar System.

Read full article Hunt for Antarctica's 'missing meteorites'

Defining a true 'pre-industrial' climate period

A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs, c1684 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cool times: A depiction of a 17th Century Frost Fair at Temple Stairs on London's Thames River

Scientists are seeking to define a new baseline from which to measure global temperatures - a time when fossil-fuel burning had yet to change the climate.

At the moment, researchers tend to use the period 1850-1900, and this will often be described as "pre-industrial".

Read full article Defining a true 'pre-industrial' climate period

Italy avalanche: A cruel coincidence

Members of Lazio's Alpine and Speleological Rescue Team stand in front of the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, central Italy Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescue workers had difficulty reaching the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola

It's a cruel coincidence that the latest swarm of big quakes to strike the Apennines region of Italy should occur just after a period of very heavy snow.

The sizeable tremors - four magnitude fives in the space of four hours on Wednesday - appear to have triggered an avalanche that swept into the Rigopiano hotel in the Grand Sasso resort area, killing many of its occupants.

Read full article Italy avalanche: A cruel coincidence

To see finally the face of Peggy

Peggy Image copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Image caption When first identified Peggy was picked up as a long, bright smudge at the edge of Saturn's A-ring

Will Peggy finally reveal herself?

Scientists studying the splendour of Saturn's rings are hoping soon to get a resolved picture of an embedded object they know exists but cannot quite see.

Read full article To see finally the face of Peggy

Recruiting prawns to fight river parasite

Media captionSusanne Sokolow: "The prawns voraciously eat the snails"

Making sure certain rivers are fully stocked with prawns could prove to be an important contribution to fighting schistosomiasis.

The parasitic worm disease is endemic in many parts of the tropics and sub-tropics. Africa is a hotspot.

Read full article Recruiting prawns to fight river parasite

Norcia earthquake: Why multiple quakes are hitting Italy

Aerial view of Amatrice - 30 October (firefighters' handout) Image copyright EPA
Image caption The town of Amatrice has been hit by earthquakes several times in recent months

Sunday's early-morning quake near the town of Norcia is the biggest in Italy since the Magnitude-6.9 Irpinia event in the south of the country in 1980.

Back then, some 2,500 people died and more than 7,000 were injured. Thankfully, we are not expecting loss of life on that scale here.

Read full article Norcia earthquake: Why multiple quakes are hitting Italy

Schiaparelli: The imperative to touch another world

Schiaparelli probe

"Dare to fail" is one of those mantras that engineers like to repeat. It's how you learn.

That is certainly the attitude being taken by the European Space Agency (Esa) in the wake of its Schiaparelli mishap.

Read full article Schiaparelli: The imperative to touch another world

Europe must find another Rosetta

Sylvain Lodiot Image copyright ESA
Image caption End of mission announcement: "Thank you and goodbye"

It was the strangest of atmospheres. Quite sombre, actually. Akin almost to a wake.

Controllers had waited in silence for a radio signal to drop off their screens. It did so, abruptly, indicating that the billion-euro Rosetta mission had finally come to an end.

Read full article Europe must find another Rosetta

Gaia clocks speedy cosmic expansion

Artwork Gaia and Milky Way Image copyright ESA
Image caption Artwork: Gaia is making the definitive map of our Milky Way Galaxy

Europe’s Gaia space telescope has been used to clock the expansion rate of the Universe and - once again - it has produced some head-scratching.

The reason? The speed is faster than what one would expect from measurements of the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang.

Read full article Gaia clocks speedy cosmic expansion

Falcon blast to reverberate across space industry

Explosion Image copyright TIA GRANT
Image caption A thick pall of smoke drifts across the Cape after the explosion

It is usual for SpaceX to do a "hot fire" test a few days before a launch.

The procedure involves holding down the Falcon 9 on its launch pad and then igniting its Merlin engines.

Read full article Falcon blast to reverberate across space industry