Comet yields 'rich array' of organics

Comet 67P

The spacecraft which made a spectacular landing on a comet last year has discovered a rich array of carbon compounds.

One leading scientist has even described the chemicals as "a frozen primordial soup".

This supports the theory that comets may have seeded the early Earth with the ingredients for life.

The findings came after the lander, known as Philae, touched down on comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko 67P in November.

It was dropped by the European Space Agency's Rosetta "mothership" in the climactic stage of a ten-year mission.

Read full article Comet yields 'rich array' of organics

New Horizons: Why bother exploring the Solar System?

Charon with new close-up photo
The mountain on Charon is surrounded by its "moat" is seen in the top-left of the rectangle

During a week of revelations about the strange worlds at the edge of the solar system, I repeatedly heard a question that often comes up about space: "why bother?"

It's a fair challenge. What is the point of spending taxpayers' money on a venture to Pluto or some other frigid corner of the cosmos?

Read full article New Horizons: Why bother exploring the Solar System?

'More hot summers' for parts of UK

Heatwave, Southbank Centre
The simulations found that milder winters and drier summers will also become more likely

Scorching summers such as the one in 2003 look set to become more common in England and Wales, a study suggests.

And devastating rains such as in Britain's worst winter in 2013-14 may be less likely in the decades ahead.

Read full article 'More hot summers' for parts of UK

Will animals of the future only be safe in captivity?

Look ahead towards the middle of the century and much-loved animals such as lemurs, rhinos and tigers will only survive in some form of captivity.

And extinction will be even more of a threat than it is now.

Read full article Will animals of the future only be safe in captivity?

Madagascar's lemurs cling to survival

The famous lemurs of Madagascar face such severe threats to their survival that none of them may be left in the wild within 25 years.

That stark warning comes from one of the world's leading specialists in the iconic animals.

Read full article Madagascar's lemurs cling to survival

Drastic action to save endangered tortoise

In a desperate bid to save one of the world's most endangered animals, conservationists are taking the controversial step of defacing the last survivors.

Ploughshare tortoises are highly prized for their distinctive gold and black shells and fetch exceptionally high prices on the international black market.

Read full article Drastic action to save endangered tortoise

Philae awakening provides extraordinary opportunity

The Philae lander after separation captured by Rosettas OSIRIS narrow-angle camera
The Philae lander after separation captured by Rosettas OSIRIS narrow-angle camera

The astonishing survival of the comet lander Philae means we have a unique opportunity to witness something previous generations could only dream of.

The tiny spacecraft, nestling in a dark corner of the comet's rugged surface, will have a ringside seat as this alien world approaches the Sun and starts to generate its tail.

Read full article Philae awakening provides extraordinary opportunity

Voyage to the north through ramparts of ice

Fram
Nansen wanted to jam a ship into the ice and let drift do the rest

At first sight the great slabs of grey-blue ice covering the Arctic Ocean appear to be rock-solid and immobile but the extraordinary fact is that they are restless and shifting.

Beneath what appears to be an unbending and endless landscape, the winds and currents are constantly at work reshaping it.

Read full article Voyage to the north through ramparts of ice

Climate drives 'new era' in Arctic Ocean

Changes in the Arctic Ocean are so profound that the region is entering what amounts to "a new era", according to Norwegian scientists.

A switch from a permanent cover of thick ice to a new state where thinner ice vanishes in the summer will have far-reaching implications, they say.

Read full article Climate drives 'new era' in Arctic Ocean

Arctic mission monitors ice shift

A highly unusual expedition is under way in the Arctic Ocean where a research vessel has been parked in the ice all winter.

Run by the Norwegian Polar Institute, the mission is exploring the big questions of how the region is changing and what this means for the ice and the wildlife.

Read full article Arctic mission monitors ice shift