Mathematical and Physical Sciences Picture of the Week

Messenger probe

Message to Mercury

Of all the planets of the inner Solar System, Mercury is the least-visited. No mission has ever landed on its surface, only two missions have studied it from space, and only one of those has reached orbit.

Published: Jun 16, 2014 10:54:22 AM

Electrostatics device

What's the charge?

When metal objects are given an electric charge, the charge is not evenly spread through it. It collects on the surface, and in particular on parts of the surface which are curved. More...

Published: Jun 9, 2014 3:53:20 PM

M 99 composite

Swift keeps flying

Every two years, NASA carries out a major review of its science missions to decide which to continue supporting. This year's review brought good news for the Swift mission - a satellite which surveys highly energetic cosmic phenomena, such as gamma ray bursts. Swift was ranked first, meaning it is guaranteed to get continued funding and support until 2016 and, subject to a further review, could continue to 2018.
One of the instruments on board Swift is the Ultraviolet and Optical Telescope (UVOT), a two-metre long telescope assembly rigged up to a camera system which can take pictures in visible and ultraviolet light. The telescope assembly was built by UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory. More...

Published: Jun 2, 2014 2:08:54 PM

Tadpole Nebula

The Tadpole Nebula

The vast majority of the stuff of the universe is hydrogen. Unlike the heavier elements, which were synthesized in supernova explosions, the universe's hydrogen was produced in vast quantities in the Big Bang. While it is the heavier elements that make the complex chemistry of the universe possible, it is hydrogen that forms stars, and gives us the light, heat and energy we need to live. More...

Published: May 19, 2014 4:13:44 PM

PanCam filter wheel

A colour camera for the Red Planet

Europe's ExoMars rover, scheduled to land on Mars in 2018, will feature a main camera system known as PanCam, which will contain two wide-angle cameras and one narrow-angle (telephoto) camera. The PanCam project is led by Prof Andrew Coates at UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory. More...

Published: May 12, 2014 10:27:25 AM

Earthquake damage in Indonesia

The power of earthquakes

Earthquakes liberate vast amounts of energy - enough in this case to shatter a reinforced concrete building in Indonesia. They can range from tremors so slight only sophisticated equipment can detect them, to the awesome power of quakes that reshape the landscape.

Published: Apr 28, 2014 3:21:11 PM

LUX dark matter detector

Detecting dark matter

The kind of matter and energy we can see and touch – whether it is in the form of atoms and molecules, or heat and light, only forms a tiny proportion of the content of the Universe, only about 5%. Over a quarter is dark matter, which is totally invisible but whose gravitational attraction can be detected; while over two thirds is dark energy, a force that pushes the Universe to expand ever faster.

Published: Apr 14, 2014 4:42:21 PM

Antimicrobial surface

Kills germs fast

Researchers in UCL's Chemistry department have developed an antibacterial surface that could help cut down on hospital–acquired infections. Scientists have known for some time that certain dyes, when illuminated with strong light, have an antibacterial effect. This is a promising technology as, unlike antibacterial fluids that sit on a surface and can be easily wiped away, the germ–killing properties are part of the surface itself. More...

Published: Apr 7, 2014 2:06:32 PM

Seeing in 4D

Seeing in 4D

Jason Lotay (UCL Maths) and Lilah Fowler (UCL Slade School of Fine Art) recently held a public workshop on maths and art, exploring the geometry of 4 dimensions through drawing, folding and making shapes. More...

Published: Mar 31, 2014 1:36:40 PM

X-ray  mirror

X-ray vision

UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory is often in the news thanks to its involvement in high-profile space missions. The lab has built and tested much of the instrumentation aboard missions such as the Herschel Space Observatory, Gaia and the forthcoming ExoMars rover. More...

Published: Mar 24, 2014 2:38:00 PM

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