From Europe to Europa – in search of life

From the earliest astronomers to the space race of the late 21st century, space exploration has always had one question in mind: is there life elsewhere in the universe? Although numerous exoplanets (planets located outside of our solar systems) offer habitable zones, scientists at ESA and NASA are looking a bit closer to home. Europa, […]

July 2015 – Pluto and the New Horizons Spacecraft

Heavens Above! Heavens Above! is the astronomy section of the Sci@StAnd website, updated each month to highlight a particular phenomenon in this month’s night sky. Last month, we showcased the the great observatories of space. This month, we will discuss the flyby of the planet pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft. The Realm of Pluto […]

European Mars Satellite enters final tests

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which is expected to be launched in 2016, is entering its final tests before being transported to Russia, where the launch will happen. [1] This marks the first joint Mars mission venture between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), which aims to explore […]

Philae’s Last Gasp

Although the Philae lander may have fallen silent, the Rosetta mission continues and the analysis of the data the lander managed to send back has only just begun. If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Rosetta or Philae, you can find our previous articles with more information on Rosetta and Philae […]

The Final Fate of Philae

On November 12 2014, the Rosetta probe made history by dropping the Philae lander onto comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, marking the first time in history that humanity has successfully landed a robotic emissary on a comet. This was the culmination of over a decade of work and the efforts of thousands of people, and is one of […]

Rosetta: To Catch A Comet

Have you ever wondered what a comet is made of? The scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA) have, and to answer their question they devised one of the boldest space missions ever attempted: Rosetta. The idea of this mission is simple: to catch a comet, and to drop a probe down onto its surface. […]

What on Earth happened to Comet ISON?

As astronomy enthusiasts and regular readers of Sci@StAnd will know, Thursday 28th November was a dramatic day for anyone interested in astronomy and solar physics (see our article ‘The Ineffable ISON’ for our commentary at the time). The comet ISON, tipped to become the ‘comet of the century’, made its closest approach to the Sun, […]

The Ineffable Comet ISON

Yesterday, the world watched with bated breath at the comet ISON, touted as ‘comet of the century’, made its closest approach to the Sun. At the so-called ‘perihelion’, the icy ball of rock and gas was set to pass within 1.2 million kilometres (less than 3 solar radii) of the surface of the Sun, but […]

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