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This month Edward and Chris talk the recent lunar missions - Astrobotic's Peregrine and Japan's SLIM. There's also the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars on what turned out post-recording to be it's final flight! Further afield we talk mega-structures on a galactic scale and asteroids crashing to Earth. January also saw the first light from the XRISM sat…
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Chris North and Edward Gomez review some stories from 2023, with asteroid missions, lunar rovers and aurora sightings. Plus a look forward to 2024, including launches of missions to asteroids and Jupiter's moons, and more commercial missions to the moon.על ידי Chris North and Edward Gomez
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Chris and Edward discuss the announcement of the detection of a highly energetic cosmic ray, dubbed "Amerterasu" or the "What the Heck" particle. Elsewhere, there is a new study of star formation in "pristine" dwarf galaxies, and the first every discovery of a disc around a star in another galaxy!על ידי Chris North and Edward Gomez
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Recorded in late October, Chris and Edward discuss recent proposals for an all-British mission to space, the launch of Psyche to...erm...Psyche, and Edward's involvement with the detection of something called a Synestia - planets bashing together. Cardiff University also hosted Prof Duncan Lorimer, who was jointly awarded the 2023 Shaw Prize for th…
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Chris and Edward discuss some recent stories, such as tantalising possible (emphasis on the possible) detections by JWST of interesting molecules on an exoplanet which coul (emphasis on the could) indicate signs of life. There's also new data on Europa, also from JWST, showing carbon dioxide on its surface - what does this mean? And further afield,…
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Dr Ian Harrisonreports from the National Astronomy meeting, which we held in Cardiff back in July. You can hear a couple of interviews we conducted on the previous episode, but in this episode we have a bit of a deep dive into machine learning with Ashley Spindler, what we mean by a modelling in astrophysics with Niall Jeffrey, and what we're learn…
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July marked the UK's annual National Astronomy Meeting, which this year took place in Cardiff. Chris North, Edward Gomez and Ian Harrison discuss a few recent stories from this month and at the conference, including the Euclid space telescope launch, India's Chandrayaan 3 moon mission, gravitational waves from supermassive black holes, feeding blac…
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In 2020 astronomers spotted an object slowly getting brighter, but it wasn't until 2021 tha they quite understood how unusual it was. In 2021, they studied it in more detail, and found that it was something we don't think has ever been seen before. It was also the most energetic single event ever witnessed. Going by the catchy name of AT2021lwx, or…
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A news roundup of the last couple of months with Chris North and Edward Gomez. With a few failures - the SpaceX Starship launch, iSpace's moon landing and Virgin Galactic's bankruptcy, it might seem things are going wrong. But it's not all bad news - ESA's JUICE spacecraft has successfully launched on its way to Jupiter! Elsewhere in the Solar Syst…
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In terms of what might be called “pure science”, there’s one topic that tends to get people excited, and that's black holes. A few weeks ago, in February 2023, a pair of papers came out that linked theories about black holes to dark energy – something we really don’t understand. If correct, this could mean that black holes, by their very nature, co…
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In the last month there was a show of the Northern Lights - or aurora - visible from the UK. If you didn't get to see it (spoiler: neither did we!), then you might get a chance in the future if there's another outburst. Edward Gomez and Chris North discuss how to increase your chances of seeing them next time there's an alert. In science news, some…
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Chris North and Edward Gomez discuss the first attempt to launch a rocket from UK soil, albeit via a piggyback on (or under) a plane. There's also an interesting supernova, the first exoplanet confirmation from JWST. Meanwhile, on Mars, does no news mean bad news for China's Zhurong rover?We also speak to Dr Ian Harrison, from Cardiff University, a…
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The 25th December marks an anniversary in the world of astronomy (as well as Sir Isaac Newton's birthday, of course) - the launch of JWST, the infrared space telescope launched to explore the Universe in unprecedented detail. One year on from launch, Chris North and Edward Gomez look at a few of the results that have come in, on top of those we've …
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With the Artemis I mission mid-mission (at the time of recording), Chris North and Edward Gomez look at what this means for the future of human space exploration, and more ambitious missions to the Moon (and beyond). Meanwhile, back here on Earth, the European Space Agency have announced their next crop of astronauts. The list includes three Britis…
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At the end of September, NASA's DART mission was deliberately crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos. Not carelessness, but a deliberate act with a view to testing planetary defense. After all, if we discover something large heading towards Earth, we might want to be able to nudge it off course.Here in Wales, the Comet Chasers team took a diversion fr…
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This is the second part of a gravitational field trip to the LIGO Hanford Observatory in Washington State, in the US.Last month we talked about how the detectors work, and the scientists and engineers who operate them. This time, we take a longer-term look, not just into the future but also into the past, and ask what it took to get here, and what …
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This month, we go on a field trip to the LIGO Hanford Observatory, one of a number of detectors that are searching for gravitational waves. In part one of this trip, we hear from a number of people working at the detector.Dr Mike Landry, Head of the LIGO Hanford Observatory, explains how, and crucially why, the experiment exists. Dr Fred Raab, Asso…
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Amateur astronomers regularly make important contributions to astronomy research. That can be through observations of meteor showers, or images of solar system objects. But it's not always about pretty pictures, and some amateurs also make measurements that feed into our understanding of a broad range of astronomical phenomena, providing a network …
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In the 65 years since Sputnik 1 was launched in 1957, the number of artificial satellites in orbit has been increasing. In the last two years, the number of satellites has doubled, largely thanks to the huge "constellations" launched by companies such as SpaceX.The number of satellites has a detrimental impact on astronomical observations, both wit…
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It's not often that a new astronomical phenomenon is named, but this month we have a new one. The name might not be that original, but there have been the first observations of something known as a "micronova". Lasting just a few hours, a micronova is much fainter than a typical "nova", making them much harder to detect, and much less likely to be …
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With the invasion of Ukraine casting a shadow over the world, Chris North and Edward Gomez look at the impact of the war on astronomy and space science, mindful that these pale in importance when compared with the death and destruction taking place on the ground. From the international collaboration taking place on board the International Space Sta…
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Back in September 2020, the new broke that an unexpected gas, phosphine had been discovered in the atmosphere of Venus. While plans for making further measurements are progressing, the theoreticians have been hard at work modelling the atmosphere, and trying to explain how life could possibly exist in such a harsh environmentDr William Bains, of Ca…
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When a mysterious signal was found by an undergraduate student, Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker was perplexed. It was hiding in archival data from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a large network of radio antennas in Western Australia. Based at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Natasha started to loop deeper. Repeating every 18 mi…
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The first interstellar object to be discovered was 'Oumuamua, detected in 2017. Joined by Comet 2I/Borisov a couple of years later, astronomers are eagerly awaiting further discoveries of such objects, which were ejected from other solar systems. We explore what the link is between these interstellar objects and the history of star formation around…
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The world of astronomy is eagerly awaiting the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope later in December. The telescope is not without controversy, but is set to revolutionise observations of the cosmos.Prof Pete Hargrave was responsible for building a calibration source for MIRI, the Mid-Infrared Imager, while Dr Tim Davis will be observing nearb…
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Back in 2015 the New Horizons spacecraft whizzed past Pluto on its way out of the Solar System. A few years later, as it continued on its way through the Kuiper Belt, it passed by a snowman-shaped object called Arrokoth. More recently, it's discovered two objects that are in fact four - binary objects comprised of two smaller objects orbiting each …
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Way back in 1181 AD, astronomers in China and Japan recorded a "guest star" - something that we'd now call a supernova. Over 800 years later, astronomers made a connection between this ancient observation and more recent studies of a very unusual object that goes by the name of "Parker's Star".Prof Quentin Parker, from University of Hong Kong, expl…
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The last month or so has seen several cases of small things being discovered. The first is an asteroid, 2021 27PH, which gets closer to the Sun than Mercury. What could we learn about fundamental science from such an object?The second is one of the smallest exoplanets detected, at less than half the mass of Venus. It orbits very close to its star, …
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In late June an interesting object was discovered heading inwards from the outer solar system, identified in archival images from a survey of the sky. It was initially thought to be worth keeping an eye on over the next decade or so, as it approaches the orbit of Saturn before heading back out to the outer reaches - a chance to keep an eye on a dis…
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Our understand of the Universe has changed a great deal in the last 100 years. From Einstein's theories of relativity and measurements of the expanding Universe, to the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background and the mysterious Dark Energy.But what are the current mysteries and unknowns that we still want to uncover? And how much is our progre…
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This month, we're joined by two people who've just been elected to prestigious roles in science here in the UK. Professor Mike Edmunds has just become President-elect of the Royal Astronomical Society, while Professor Bernard Schutz has recently been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.Both these societies have a long history, and we discuss thei…
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Last September, a team of scientists led by Professor Jane Greaves announced the detection of a rare gas, phosphine, in the atmosphere of Venus. With no plausible explanations of how it could be there, one possibility remaining was that it was being produced by some sort of microbial life floating in the cloud decks of Venus.The idea was seen as pr…
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Where were you on 28th February 2021, just before 10pm? If you were in parts of Wales, or the west of England, you may have seen a bright flash streaking in the sky. This was a fireball - a bright kind of meteorite which is a special sight in its own right. But this was a very special fireball, as the object that created it landed on the ground and…
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The idea of life elsewhere is not a new one. Hundreds of years ago it was assumed that there were beings everywhere, before such views were considered heretical, and the determination that places like the Moon were dry airless worlds started to reduce the possible places life could thrive. But even as recently as the mid-20th Century, the idea of v…
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Over the course of the next month, we'll see the arrival at Mars of not one, not two, but three spacecraft: Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, with its little helicopter Ingenuity; the Chinese Space Agency's Tianwen-1 mission, which comprises an orbiting spacecraft, a landing platform and a rover; and the UAE's Hope mission, which is an orbiting spacecraft…
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With the end of one of the craziest years in living memory, we start with astronomical reflections on the last 12 months - and how far we've come over the course of the last decade.A new results has been published about the structure of our own Milky Way Galaxy, using the emission from carbon monoxide gas. The results, from the SEDIGISM team, show …
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A show of two halves, this month, starting with watery moons. One isn't so surprising - Jupiter's icy Europa. Known to have an ocean under the thick ice shell, models suggest that the plumes that have been observed may not be from the global reservoir, but from smaller briny pools within the icy crust.The second moon is perhaps more surprising, bei…
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Chris North and Edward Gomez give a round-up of the month in astronomy.Towards the end of October, NASA's Osiris Rex spacecraft grabbed a sample from the asteroid Bennu. What happens next, and what might we learn from these samples? Chris and Edward discuss.There's also an update on Betelgeuse (however you chose to pronousne it), which is not estim…
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This is a special episode - released a couple of weeks earlier than normal – that’s because we’ve got a very special story to talk about this time. A team of astronomers has detected hints that indicate the possibility that there may be life in the clouds of Venus. Despite the maybes and possibilities, this is an astonishing statement, and we’ll ex…
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If there’s anything that pricks up the ears in astronomy, it’s black holes. And this month we have not one, but two black hole stories. And, depending on how you count them, four black holes, though two of them no longer exist – if that sounds confusing, then don’t worry, it’ll become clear!Regular listeners will be no stranger to black holes, with…
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In astronomy, the month of July has been the month of two things: comets, and Mars. Comet Neowise, or to give it it’s full title C/2020 F3 NEOWISE, has graced the skies of the northern hemispheres, becoming the first naked eye comet for some time. Some have even argued it’s the best comet for decades.In terms of new missions, then this summer marks…
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Science news stories normally revolve around something new that's been learned, or some question that’s been answered. But sometimes, and these are often the most interesting times, there’s an observation or discovery that raises a whole new set of questions – and the mystery deepens. This month we discuss two such discoveries.First of all, an unus…
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Amid the turmoil of not only coronavirus, but also anti-racism protests across the US and now internationally, it's been a notable month for spaceflight. At the end of May, SpaceX launched their first crewed Dragon capsule, which became the first private vehicle to dock with the International Space Station.But the private space sector is much bigge…
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The Hubble Space Telescope is 30 years old - something that even its most enthusiastic supporters couldn't have dreamt of when it launched in 1990. With the help of a host of astronomers and space scientists, Chris North explores the history of the mission and the revolutionary discoveries that have been made.Prof Anu Ojha, Director of the National…
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In these unprecendented times, it's hard to argue that much of space science and astronomy is key infrastructure, or its staff key workers. And while that's true, like many organisations work cannot simply stop altogether.The European Space Agency runs a multitude of missions, from space observatories to interplanetary explorers, and from solar pro…
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Betelgeuse is still misbehaving, though we're starting to get more information in from observations by some of the largest telescope. Astronomers are narrowing in on the possible explanations.While the dimming of Betelgeuse isn't anything to do with aliens, the SETI programme is still going with a new project designed to focus on planets around sta…
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The astronomy world has been a-buzz with news of Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion, which appears to be dimming. Chris North, Edward Gomez and Claudia Antolini discuss how unusual this is, and what it means for the star's future.Further afield, there's a newly identified wave in our Galactic neighbourhood, changing our understanding of the n…
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The final episode of 2019 includes a look back at a few things that have happened this year, and a look forward to the future.Chris North and Edward Gomez discuss the developments in exoplanet discoveries, and what future missions (such as CHEOPS, Plato and Ariel) may be able to tell us about the wide range of planets out there. We've also had the …
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This month saw the announcement of two follow-up discoveries of two explosive events. Firstly observations of one of the highest energy ever gamma ray burst ever seen, detected back in January, have identified where it originated. Meanwhile, colleagues in Cardiff University have been searching for signs of a remnant neutron star at the heart of Sup…
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October 2019 saw the first all-female spacewalk, and the discover of 20 new moons of Saturn. There were also more observations of interstellar comet Borisov, and evidence for the Milky Way's black hole having sent out a violent flare several million years ago. Chris and Edward discuss these latest stories.October also saw a planned hiatus in operat…
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