Rats driven from South Georgia's wildlife paradise

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Media captionListen to the song of the South Georgia Pipit - free now from predation by rats

They have gone, or so it seems.

The biggest rat eradication programme ever undertaken appears to have rid South Georgia island in the South Atlantic of its pest problem.

A survey of the British Overseas Territory has found no trace of the rodents that had been attacking the local birdlife.

The outcome is a triumph for the South Georgia Heritage Trust, the Scottish charity that led the £10m campaign to protect the biodiversity hotspot.

Helicopters were used to systematically drop poison pellets across the island's coastal fringes in three phases starting in 2010/11.

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Europe's Mars rover takes shape

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Media captionAirbus engineer Abbie Hutty gives a tour of the ExoMars rover test model

So, here it is. Europe's Mars rover. Or rather, a copy of it.

This is what they call the Structural Thermal Model, or STM. It is one of three rovers that will be built as part of the European Space Agency's ExoMars 2020 mission to search for life on the Red Planet. And, no, we're not sending all three to the Red Planet.

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UK satellite makes HD colour movies of Earth

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Media captionMoving cars, lorries, boats and planes - seen from an altitude of 505km

A British spacecraft is now routinely making movies of the Earth’s surface.

Carbonite-2 was built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) in Guildford and launched in January.

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XFEL: UK signs up to super X-ray laser machine

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Media captionAllen Orville: "An XFEL opens up a new frontier in structural biology"

The UK has formally joined the European XFEL, a super-bright X-ray laser.

The machine, which is sited in Germany, produces high-energy pulses that are focussed on a target at the end of a 3.4km-long tunnel complex.

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Big harpoon is 'solution to space junk'

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Media captionWatch a slow-motion test. The harpoon is travelling at 25m/s

Airbus is testing a big harpoon to snare rogue or redundant satellites and pull them out of the sky.

The 1m-long projectile would be attached, through a strong tether, to a chase spacecraft.

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'Loneliest tree' records human epoch

Spruce Image copyright PAVLA FENWICK
Image caption The tree was planted around 1905 and puts on growth of about 1cm per year

It’s been dubbed "the loneliest tree on the planet" because of its remote location, but the Sitka spruce might represent something quite profound about the age in which we live.

The tree, sited on Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean, records in its wood a clear radioactive trace from the A-bomb tests of the 1950s and 60s.

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Dippy: 'The people's dinosaur' hits the road

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Media captionLorraine Cornish is face to face with "the people's dinosaur" - Dippy the Diplodocus

Ask people to name museum exhibits in the UK and the chances are that a certain dinosaur will top their list.

Dippy the Diplodocus has a special place in the hearts of so many, probably because it was the first thing they saw as a child when they entered London's Natural History Museum.

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Space lasers to track Earth's ice

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Media captionThorsten Markus on IceSat-2's laser: "We make a measurement every 70cm"

With new space missions come new and improved capabilities. And for those interested in what's happening to the ice on Planet Earth, we have two ventures this year that are going to make a major contribution to our understanding.

Ice is the "climate canary". The loss, and the rate of that loss, tell us something about how global warming is progressing.

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NZ rocket launch heralds new wave

Electron launch Image copyright Rocket Lab
Image caption The Electron launches from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula in the North Island

Twenty-eighteen is shaping up to be a fascinating year for the rocket business.

All eyes currently are on Florida as we await the debut of the Falcon Heavy, the SpaceX company's bid to claim the title of "the most powerful launch vehicle on the planet".

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The whales that have returned to South Georgia's killing waters

Southern right whale Image copyright Dave Rootes
Image caption A southern right whale raises its head out of the water off South Georgia

It's kind of shocking that right whales should be so-called because they were the "right whale to kill".

Slow surface-dwellers that were curious of humans and boats - their numbers started to tank long before the modern era of commercial whaling, post-1900.

Read full article The whales that have returned to South Georgia's killing waters