UK wants continued EU Copernicus participation

S5P Image copyright Airbus DS/Max Alexander
Image caption Sentinel-5P will make global maps of pollution from an altitude of 824km

The UK has given the clearest statement yet of its desire to stay within the European Union's Copernicus Earth observation programme after Brexit.

EU member states are building the most advanced ever satellite system for monitoring the state of the planet - with Britain playing a major role.

Business Secretary Greg Clark says he wants that participation to continue.

His comments came as Airbus UK debuted the latest satellite in Copernicus known as Sentinel-5 Precursor.

This spacecraft will make global maps of gases and particles in the atmosphere to track pollution and climate change. It is set to launch on a Russian rocket in September.

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Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'

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Media captionScience reporter Victoria Gill looks at why there is so much plastic on beaches

US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made and put the number at 8.3 billion tonnes.

It is an astonishing mass of material that has essentially been created only in the last 65 years or so.

Read full article Earth is becoming 'Planet Plastic'

James Webb: Swallowing the biggest space telescope

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Media captionJuli Lander and Alberto Conti: "Chamber was built to test Apollo"

The door has closed on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

The successor to Hubble has been locked tight inside a giant chamber where it will undergo a series of tests to simulate conditions off Earth.

Read full article James Webb: Swallowing the biggest space telescope

Antarctic iceberg: Giant 'white wanderer' poised to break free

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Media captionThe putative iceberg has been modelled using observations from the Cryosat spacecraft

Everybody is fascinated by icebergs. The idea that you can have blocks of frozen water the size of cities, and bigger, sparks our sense of wonder.

British astronaut Tim Peake photographed one from orbit that would just about fit inside Central London's ring road. But at 26km by 13km (16 miles by 8 miles), it was a tiddler compared with the berg that is about to break away from the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Read full article Antarctic iceberg: Giant 'white wanderer' poised to break free

The rock that records how we all got here

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Media captionRichard Herrington: "It's that free oxygen that gives us the diversity of life we have on Earth today"

You're going to want to touch it; you're definitely going to want to run your fingers over its wavy lines.

This 2.5-tonne lump of rock will be one of the new star exhibits when London's Natural History Museum re-opens its front entrance-space in a couple of weeks' time.

Read full article The rock that records how we all got here

Satellite mega-constellation production begins

Artwork satellite Image copyright ONEWEBB
Image caption Each satellite is about a metre cubed and weighs less than 150kg

European aerospace giant Airbus and its partner, OneWeb, have begun the production of a satellite mega-constellation.

The network will comprise at least 600 spacecraft in the first instance, but could eventually encompass more than 2,000.

Read full article Satellite mega-constellation production begins

Whaling's 'uncomfortable' scientific legacy

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Media captionRichard Sabin: "We actively use this data for marine conservation purposes now"

It's a curious thing to see a group of early whale foetuses up close - to see beings so small that have the potential to become so big.

But what really strikes you, especially in those initial developmental stages, is how familiar the forms look. How like an early human foetus, they appear.

Read full article Whaling's 'uncomfortable' scientific legacy

Full thrust on Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket

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Media captionThe Vinci engine can be reignited multiple times

Manufacturers say they are making rapid progress in the development of Europe's new rocket - the Ariane 6.

The vehicle is due to enter service in 2020, gradually replacing the existing workhorse, the Ariane 5.

Read full article Full thrust on Europe's new Ariane 6 rocket

Galileo contract faces Brexit crunch

OHB stand at the Paris Air Show
Image caption OHB stand at the Paris Air Show

The contract will be signed on Thursday giving a German-UK consortium the go-ahead to build another eight satellites for Galileo - Europe's version of GPS.

OHB System of Bremen and SSTL of Guildford have so far produced all of the fully operational satellites in the constellation.

Read full article Galileo contract faces Brexit crunch

Whales reached huge size only recently

Whale Image copyright Silverback Films/BBC
Image caption Being big means they can maximise the opportunities where they exist

Blue whales are the biggest animals that have ever existed on Earth but they only recently* got that way.

This is the extraordinary finding from a new study that examined the fossil record of baleens - the group of filter feeders to which the blues belong.

Read full article Whales reached huge size only recently