Solar Impulse awaits 'moment of truth'

Solar Impulse

It will be a test of man and machine. The Solar Impulse project is waiting to undertake its greatest challenge yet: flying non-stop from Nanjing in China to Hawaii in the Central Pacific.

For a passenger airliner, the 8,000km could be completed in 10 hours or so. But for this solar-powered, prop-driven, experimental aircraft, it could take 5-6 days and nights of continuous flight.

The plane will need the weather on its side, which is why the team is currently sitting tight in Nanjing, looking out for a sizeable, favourable window.

So far on its epic round-the-world quest to promote clean technologies, Solar Impulse has been restricted to short hops of about 20 hours' maximum duration.

To complete this seventh leg will involve smashing several aviation records - not least the longest-duration journey for a single-seater plane.

Read full article Solar Impulse awaits 'moment of truth'

The great 'Mars bake-off' begins

ExoMars rover cleanroom
Public webcams mean you'll be able to follow the assembly of the Mars rover from anywhere in the world

The UK aerospace laboratory in which Europe's ExoMars rover will be assembled is about to undergo a three-month deep-clean.

Just built at Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, the facility must be made spotless before any robot parts are brought in.

Read full article The great 'Mars bake-off' begins

Hubble issues 25th birthday image

Westerlund 2
The birthday image features a giant cluster of about 3,000 stars called Westerlund 2

The Hubble Space Telescope has celebrated its silver anniversary with a picture featuring a spectacular vista of young stars blazing across a dense cloud of gas and dust.

The "Westerlund 2" cluster of stars is located about 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina.

Read full article Hubble issues 25th birthday image

Rosetta comet lander tells magnetic story

Comet 67P
Philae landed on the smaller lobe of the comet, touching the surface four times before coming to a rest

The comet being trailed through space by Europe's Rosetta probe has no magnetic field of its own.

The finding is significant because it answers one of the major questions of the mission - namely, did magnetic fields play a major role in pulling together the material that makes up icy dirt-balls like 67P?

Read full article Rosetta comet lander tells magnetic story

'Robot chef' aimed at home kitchen

A London-based company has launched a prototype "robo-chef" for the home.

Moley Robotics is demonstrating its concept at this year's Hannover Messe - a big trade fair for industrial technology held annually in Germany.

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Getting ready for the mission to Hell

Airbus cleanroom
Airbus has produced a "copy" of SolO to test and validate the design

They must be the two most audacious space missions currently in development.

Solar Orbiter and Solar Probe Plus will venture inside the orbit of Mercury to study the Sun.

Read full article Getting ready for the mission to Hell

Bloodhound: Superwheels for supersonic car go into production

Wheel machining
A forged aluminium "cheese" goes into one of Castle's machines to be cut to a very precise shape

The process of machining the fastest wheels in automotive history has begun.

The aluminium discs will be fitted to the Bloodhound Supersonic Car, which will endeavour to break the world land speed record (763mph) later this year.

Read full article Bloodhound: Superwheels for supersonic car go into production

Lisa Pathfinder: 'Exquisite' gravity probe leaves UK

Lisa Pathfinder
The Lisa Pathfinder contract represented a watershed for UK industry in space

British industry has completed construction of the modules that make up the Lisa Pathfinder satellite.

This remarkable probe will test the key technologies needed to detect gravitational waves in space.

Read full article Lisa Pathfinder: 'Exquisite' gravity probe leaves UK

Sentinel-2: Europe's 'Landsat' ready to picture Planet Earth

Sentinel-2a

The lead spacecraft in Europe's new multi-billion-euro Earth observation (EO) programme is built and ready to go into orbit.

Sentinel-2a will take pictures of the planet's surface in visible and infrared light.

Read full article Sentinel-2: Europe's 'Landsat' ready to picture Planet Earth

Hubble's star refuses to fade

Sombrero Galaxy
Hubble has wowed us all with its stunning views of the cosmos

Scientists say they have every hope that the Hubble Space Telescope will keep working for at least another five years, perhaps more.

The famous observatory is about to celebrate its 25th birthday.

Read full article Hubble's star refuses to fade