CPS News

Professor Hilary Downes elected to the Presidency of the Mineralogical Society

Publication date:

Prof. Hilary Downes

Congratulations to CPS member Professor Hilary Downes on her recent election to the role of President of the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. A full report can be found in the news article from Birkbeck's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

UCL's ExoMars PanCam kit one step closer to Mars

Publication date:

ExoMars Rover (courtesy of ESA)

The UCL-made ‘structural-thermal model’ of the ExoMars PanCam instrument for the joint ESA-Roscosmos (Russian space agency) 2018 rover mission leaves UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) today for Airbus UK in Stevenage. This is the first of several steps on the way to Mars - in 2016, UCL will deliver engineering- and flight models. The flight model will be the actual instrument which travels to Mars where it will identify promising targets for the mission.

Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn

Publication date:

An artist's rendition of the Cassini spacecraft approaching the planet Saturn. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Scientists have found the first direct evidence for explosive releases of energy in Saturn's magnetic bubble using data from the Cassini spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. The research is reported in the journal Nature Physics.

Ions from Comet 67P – early Rosetta results and increasing activity

Publication date:

Comet 67P and Lithium release comparison. From Coates et al. (2015)

As a comet nears the Sun, its icy nucleus heats, and neutral water and other gas molecules sublime, carrying ice and dust grains away also. The gas ionizes in sunlight, producing pickup ions. In a new paper, Andrew Coates and colleagues look at the early pickup process at 67P using data from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle instruments. They compare the results to what was learned with the AMPTE and Giotto missions 30 years ago. The trajectory of Rosetta, the first spacecraft to fly with a comet at different distances to the Sun, is ideal for this. They discuss an elegant momentum balance seen between the new-born pickup ions and the solar wind.

Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure launches new era of planetary collaboration in Europe

Publication date:

Mars (credit: NASA, ESA)

A €9.95 million project to integrate and support planetary science activities across Europe has been launched. 

Planetary group student organises Sample Space Science Week at MSSL for sixth formers

Publication date:

WEX1

MSSL has just finished its second annual work experience week for sixth formers. Adi Ramani, one of the sixth formers taking part, explains enthusiastically: “It was an amazing week. I don’t think anything was lacking. It is the perfect experience for anyone wanting to pursue Physics or Engineering.”

ARIEL mission to reveal 'Brave New Worlds' among exoplanets

Publication date:

Concept view of the ARIEL spacecraft. Credit: ESA

An ambitious European mission is being planned to answer fundamental questions about how planetary systems form and evolve. ARIEL will investigate the atmospheres of several hundreds planets orbiting distant stars. It is one of three candidate missions selected last month by the European Space Agency (ESA) for its next medium class science mission, due for launch in 2026.  The ARIEL mission concept has been developed by a consortium of more than 50 institutes from 12 countries, including UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal.  The mission will be presented today at the Pathways 2015 conference in Bern, Switzerland, by ARIEL’s Principal Investigator, Prof Giovanna Tinetti of UCL. 

Dr. Geraint Jones: Pluto’s moons in sharper focus

Publication date:

Dr. Geraint Jones

Dr. Geraint Jones, Reader in Planetary Science at UCL, highlights Pluto's moons in his recent article for The Conversation: "New Horizons brings Pluto’s mysterious moons into sharper focus".

Pluto and Charon - A Planetary Waltz, in celebration of NASA's New Horizon Mission

Publication date:

Original plates from Clyde Tombaugh's discovery of Pluto (apparent magnitude +15.1). Credit: Lowell Observatory Archives via Wikipedia

On July 14, 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to the dwarf planet Pluto, the outermost body in the Solar we have visited. A hundred years previously, Gustav Holst had been composing his Planet Suite, ignorant of Pluto’s existence.

Prof. Andrew Coates: There is still lots more solar system exploration to do... 

Publication date:

Prof. Andrew Coates

In his recent article for The Conversation: "Fly-by missions: what is the point when we have the technology to go into orbit?", Prof. Andrew Coates, Head of Planetary Science at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at UCL, discusses the significance of fly-by missions, including the recently successful NASA New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the importance of continued solar system exploration.

Search UCL News