Quakes 'ever present' for Apennines

Amatrice quake Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Every so often, one of the faults that run along the Apennines will rupture

Quakes are the ever present danger for those who live along the Apennine mountain range in Italy.

Through the centuries thousands have died as a result of tremors equal to, or not much bigger than, the event that struck in the early hours of Wednesday.

We all recall the L'Aquila (Magnitude 6.3) event of 2009 in which 295 died. But go much further back to Avezzano (Magnitude 6.9-7.0) in 1915, which claimed 30,000 lives; and to 1703 when a trio of Magnitude 6 quakes killed at least 10,000 people.

Thankfully, we tend not to see deaths on those scales anymore, and that is because of more robust building, better preparation and more co-ordinated emergency responses after the fact.

What doesn't change is the geological cause. On the grand scale, Italy's seismic problems are driven by the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates.

'Pull-apart'

Read full article Quakes 'ever present' for Apennines

Aeolus space laser catches a following wind

Artwork Image copyright ESA
Image caption The mission's full name is Atmospheric Dynamics Mission (ADM-Aeolus)

Europe’s Aeolus space laser mission, which is designed to make unprecedented maps of Earth’s winds, has reached a long-awaited key milestone.

Engineers at Airbus in the UK have finally managed to bolt together all the elements of the satellite after overcoming major technical challenges.

Read full article Aeolus space laser catches a following wind

Where next for solar-powered flight?

Solar Impulse Image copyright KARIM SAHIB

There was something mesmerising about watching Solar Impulse come in to land, particularly at night.

Moving slowly but deliberately, its LEDs lighting the way - the plane did look very different to anything we would recognise at an airport.

Read full article Where next for solar-powered flight?

Tim Peake, Brexit and the UK space sector

Media captionTim Peake: Care will be needed when it comes to science

It was inevitable that Tim Peake would be asked about Brexit at the Farnborough International Air Show.

The visit - his first public engagement since returning from orbit - drew huge crowds, and everyone wanted to know what he had to say on the topic of space science and the industry that supports it.

Read full article Tim Peake, Brexit and the UK space sector

Funding flows for UK’s ‘revolutionary’ Sabre rocket engine

Two-stage launcher Image copyright ORBITAL ACCESS LIMITED
Image caption Artwork: Sabre-enabled test vehicles could perhaps one day power a two-stage launcher flying out of Prestwick

The £60m UK government investment in the "revolutionary" Sabre rocket engine concept has finally started to flow.

The company behind the power unit said at the Farnborough International Air Show that this would now enable it to push ahead with a new demonstrator.

Read full article Funding flows for UK’s ‘revolutionary’ Sabre rocket engine

Heady days for ocean surface mappers

Static map Image copyright CMEMS/EUMETSAT
Image caption The satellites pass over the warmer, higher (red) waters of the Gulf Stream on the same day

This is an unprecedented time for the study of the oceans.

Space agencies are now flying six satellite altimeters, returning large volumes of data on the height and shape of the sea surface - and in rapid time.

Read full article Heady days for ocean surface mappers

Europe races to meet Orion deadline

Orion ship Image copyright NASA
Image caption Artist's impression: The conical Orion capsule sits in front of its European service module

European industry has begun assembling the "back end" of the Orion crewship that is due to make an important 2018 demonstration flight around the Moon.

Orion is the next-generation vehicle that the US space agency (Nasa) will use to send astronauts beyond Earth, to destinations like asteroids and Mars.

Read full article Europe races to meet Orion deadline

Solar Impulse: A repaired plane and team

Media captionAndre Borschberg: "I felt the situation was very difficult and very emotional"

All big projects have their crunch moments, and these pinch points will very often define the people involved.

For the Solar Impulse team it came over the northern Pacific Ocean in mid-summer last year.

Read full article Solar Impulse: A repaired plane and team

Ariane 6 project 'in good shape'

Artist's impression Image copyright ASL
Image caption Artist's impression: The schedule calls for a maiden flight in 2020

The dream is moving to reality. That was the message from European Space Agency boss, Jan Woerner, on Wednesday as he discussed the Ariane 6 rocket.

The director general was touring the Airbus Safran Launchers facilities at Les Mureaux, France, where much of the future vehicle will be integrated.

Read full article Ariane 6 project 'in good shape'

Gravitational waves: Numbers don't do them justice

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Albert Einstein: His genius is made clear yet again

"It's astonishing; it really is." Jim Hough can't stop repeating the phrase.

The veteran gravitational wave hunter from Glasgow University has come to the National Press Club in Washington DC to witness the announcement of the first direct detection of ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by the merger of two "intermediate-sized" black holes.

Read full article Gravitational waves: Numbers don't do them justice