An advanced laser system offering vastly faster data speeds is now ready for linking with spacecraft beyond our planet following a series of crucial ground tests. Later this year, ESA's observatory in Spain will use the laser to communicate with a NASA Moon orbiter.
In the science fiction show, Star Trek, teleportation is a regular and significant feature. But how much time and power is required to send the data needed to teleport a human being? University of Leicester physics students have calculated the answer to this very question.
This spring, humanity was shown its most detailed map of the early universe ever created. Generated by observations from the Planck spacecraft, the map revealed fluctuations in temperature in the relic radiation left over from the Big Bang - what we call the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Recently, scientists on the Planck team announced finding certain large-scale features on the CMB sky that they cannot explain. One of them: a large cold spot, which corresponds to an anomalously large area of high density.
Using data from a NASA satellite, scientists have discovered a massive particle accelerator in the heart of one of the harshest regions of near-Earth space, a region of super-energetic, charged particles surrounding the globe and known as the Van Allen radiation belts.
NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) spacecraft has captured its first observations of a region of the sun that is now possible to observe in detail: the lowest layers of the sun's atmosphere.
By directing energy beams at tiny crystals found in a Martian meteorite, a Western University-led team of geologists has proved that the most common group of meteorites from Mars is almost four billion years younger than many scientists had believed - resolving a long-standing puzzle in Martian science and painting a much clearer picture of the Red Planet's evolution that can now be compared to that of habitable Earth.
Comets and meteorites contain clues to our solar system's earliest days. But some of the findings are puzzle pieces that don't seem to fit well together. A new set of theoretical models from Carnegie's Alan Boss shows how an outburst event in the Sun's formative years could explain some of this disparate evidence. His work could have implications for the hunt for habitable planets outside of our solar system.
Researchers at Brown University have shown that some Martian valleys appear to have been caused by runoff from orographic precipitation - moisture carried part of the way up a mountain and deposited on the slopes. The findings help to answer the question of whether water flowing on ancient Mars bubbled up from the ground or fell down from the atmosphere.
Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have observed what most likely are strong carbon dioxide emissions from Comet ISON ahead of its anticipated pass through the inner solar system later this year.
Scientists led by the University of Leicester have set a new record for cosmic X-ray sources ever sighted - creating an unprecedented cosmic X-ray catalogue that will provide a valuable resource allowing astronomers to explore the extreme Universe.